The Fab Four of Peer-to-Peer Payment Providers

Long gone are the days when friends ended a group lunch by scrounging around for the correct change to split the bill. Today, the internet makes it easy to send money to a friend in seconds—all online and all from the palm of your hand.

Thanks to the speed and convenience of online peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, researchers estimate that 126 million Americans will be using mobile devices to send money to friends in 2020. If you’re curious about these services but aren’t sure where to start, this article is for you. Read on to learn how P2P payment providers can make your life easier and compare four of the most popular options you can tap into today.

What You Need to Know

PTP providers are designed to make it easy to send and receive money from friends. Most require an email address or phone number to get started. Once setup is complete, you can send payments through deposit (savings or checking), credit card, or prepaid card accounts.

Some services will also allow you to hold funds within the account itself to cut down on the time it takes for money to swap hands. Fees vary, as does the length of time it takes for the funds to hit the recipient’s account. Some providers still make you wait a day or two, but increasingly, the money’s there in real time or close to it.

So whether you’re splitting a restaurant bill, paying a babysitter, or sending some cash to Junior at college, P2P apps and websites can make your life easier. Here are some of the most popular players you can try.

#1: PayPal

First on our list is PayPal, the undisputed pioneer of peer-to-peer. Its roots date to 1998, when it served as a payment provider for eBay, the online auction giant. When you send friends or family money via your U.S.-based bank account or PayPal balance, transactions are free. They do, however, charge for credit card transactions, so keep that in mind when setting up your account and preferred payment methods.

#2: Venmo

Venmo is a mobile app owned by PayPal but designed with a social media flair that makes it popular with younger generations. The app features a news feed of sorts that shows when and where friends are using the app (but not how much they’re spending). Like PayPal, Venmo is free to use unless you opt to fund your payments via credit card.

#3: Zelle

Like the first two options, Zelle makes it easy to safely and securely send money directly to friends and family. Rather than being a standalone service, Zelle is a creation of the nation’s biggest banks and their technology partner, so it’s generally accessed through a bank or credit union’s mobile or online banking site.

This means the service may already be available to you through your bank’s app or website, and you won’t need to download a new app to use it. (If your bank doesn’t offer Zelle, however, there is still an app you can download and connect to your debit card.) And rather than offering a middleman account like some of the other providers do, Zelle sends money directly from one bank account to another.

#4: Facebook Messenger

When Facebook first gave its vast user base the ability to send cash payments through its Messenger chat service in March 2015, use quickly soared past a million payments a day. Today, PayPal has been integrated into the app’s payment service, making it even easier to use.

Users love how simple it is to split payments among multiple users in Messenger. On the other hand, funds availability can vary and payments can take longer than when you use a service like Zelle, which immediately moves money into deposit accounts.

If these popular providers still don’t meet your needs, don’t give up. Other players that can simplify your life include digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay or Cash App, the P2P service from small-business payments specialist Square.

Whatever you choose, remember that online payments of any kind rely on seamless, reliable cellular or internet service. Call Race today to make sure you have the fastest and most secure connection available.

Design Your Dream Office at Home with These Smart Devices

Ready for a break from awkward office parties, loud typists, and coworkers who microwave fish? If so, it’s time to build your dream office at home with fast, reliable internet from Race, and these great “work from home” smart devices.

Start with the Smart Speaker

As the hub that controls other smart devices, a smart speaker serves as the keystone of your home office. The Google Home speaker, available for $129, is a good option if you use Google services such as Google Contacts and Google Calendar. Synching well with Google apps, the hub’s voice assistant excels at handling documents on Google Drive and making phone calls with Google Home. At a list price of $99.99, an Amazon Echo smart speaker with the Alexa assistant is another good choice for work-related tasks, such as managing a calendar and making to-do lists.

Select the Right Smart Printer

Although businesses continue to go paperless, you still occasionally need to print hard copies. Smart printers allow you to print directly from cloud services such as Google Cloud Print and Apple’s AirPrint. Consider your usage when selecting a printer. For low-to-moderate use, affordable options from Canon’s All-In-One inkjet series can set you up for just under $100. For greater volume, the Brother MFC-J985DW-XL offers faster printing and higher ink capacity at an affordable cost of $288.

Streamline Audio with Smart Earbuds

You need not show up on Skype meetings with a bulky headset that makes you look like a cargo pilot. Upgrade to smart earbuds. With built-in microphones, Bluetooth-connected earbuds sync with virtual assistants to handle voice commands. Smart devices such as Bragi Dash Pro earbuds, at a cost of $290, enable bilingual business conversations through integration with iTranslate. For a less expensive option, Tom’s Guide gives good marks to ENACFIRE E18 earbuds, which you can pick up for around $50.

Track Work with a Smart Timekeeper

Say goodbye to traditional time sheets. Smart devices such as the TimeFlip multi-sided die can keep track of your work. Designate each of the die’s sides to different tasks, such as emails and meetings, or different clients and projects, and flip the device to the corresponding side as you perform each task. You can get a TimeFlip on Amazon for about $50.

To keep everything running smoothly, you need a good internet connection. If you want to future-proof your office, gigabit internet from Race, which offers speeds up to 50 times faster than cable broadband, is the smart choice. So beef up your internet, set up your smart system, and trade in the traditional work environment for your dream home office.

How Disney’s Hulu Takeover Affects You

There have been so many media mergers and deals lately that it can be hard to keep them all straight, much less figure out how they actually affect you. One of the more recent announcements revealed that Disney is taking total control of Hulu, a popular streaming service loved by cord cutters and binge watchers.

But does a deal struck in some high-rise office far away actually affect you or your family? Read on to find out.

Streaming Your Favorite Shows

The Disney deal is done, but don’t expect any noticeable changes to your streaming experience right away. That’s because Comcast has agreed to keep popular NBCUniversal shows, like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Office,” on the Hulu platform—at least for now.

But change is coming. The deal does give Comcast some flexibility to decide if and how to make its shows available on Hulu, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming service in 2020.

As Comcast and other big players, like AT&T’s Warner Media and Apple, enter the streaming space and start competing for subscribers, you may find your favorite shows spread across multiple services. In that case, you could be forced to decide between buying multiple subscriptions or losing access to your favorite shows.

Bundle Deals on the Horizon

The change doesn’t have to be all bad, however. Later this year, Disney will launch Disney+, a kid-focused streaming service. When they do, you may see some bundle deals available when you combine Disney+ with Hulu or ESPN+, the Disney-owned streaming service for sports fans.

Viewers like you just may benefit as companies get creative to strengthen their relationships with consumers. Disney CEO Robert Iger even hinted at the possibility of future off-screen “bundles,” where streaming service subscribers enjoy special discounts or experiences at Disney amusement parks.

Are You Prepared for the Future of Streaming?

The exact effects of Disney’s Hulu takeover remain to be seen, but one thing is sure: Big media companies are devoting more attention to streaming services and investing billions of dollars into those platforms.

This is the future of entertainment for you and your family—and if you’ve ever faced the frustration of a video that won’t buffer, you know you’ll need high-speed internet to make it work! Contact Race today to make sure you have the fast, reliable internet you need to enjoy your favorite shows now and in the future.

Why Upload Speed Matters

The future of the internet is sharing―from capturing Instagram-worthy meals to enjoying video chats with friends―and Race’s unmatched upload speeds make that future a reality.

Upload speed is also crucial when taking classes from home, or while operating a home business. Here are a just few ways that fast, reliable upload speeds make your life easier:

  1. Video chat and live sharing

Skype, FaceTime, and other video messaging services all require robust upstream connections to ensure clear audiovisual quality and to prevent freezing and blackouts. Sharing big news on Facebook or Instagram Live also works better with greater upload speed.

  1. Working or going to school from home

You need a robust upstream connection to interact with colleagues during video conferences, collaborate on team projects, and share important files. Online studies also can tax your upstream connection, especially if you join a virtual classroom or share large portfolios.

  1. Keeping family, friends, and followers in the loop

Upload new videos to YouTube or share photographs with Flickr faster with a better upstream connection.

  1. Faster data backups and online file synching

If you back up your data with a service like Backblaze or Carbonite, you need upload speed that meets basic requirements to ensure your data is protected quickly and without glitches. File and photo synching services like Dropbox, Google Photos, and Microsoft OneDrive all require a minimum of 5 Mbps upload speed to operate properly, and the more upload capacity available, the faster these services can sync and share files.

  1. Online gaming, remote security and much more…

From online gaming to connected security systems that send real-time images through an internet connection, a fast upload connection is key to ensuring all your interactive online activities function well.

If you’re not already a Race customer with Gigabit service, check the availability of your address at www.race.com/order. If service is not available to you, fill out the inquiry form to let us know you are interested and increase the chances of Race building a network in your area.

Five Smart Devices That Can Save You Money

When you’re connected to fast and reliable internet from Race, the “smart home of the future” instantly becomes a reality. Here are a few of our favorite devices on the market that can save you money and make yours the smartest home on the block.

  1. Third Generation Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest’s newest thermostat takes being a smart device seriously. The Nest Learning Thermostat can turn down the temperature at night to ensure a good night’s sleep, boost the temperature during the morning and evening for cozy family time, and stabilize the temperature during the day to keep your bill under control. The device can even track your whereabouts in the house and adjust the heating and air conditioning accordingly, so you spend less to climate control unoccupied areas of your home.

  1. Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch

These smart switches employ “XCT Sensing Technology” that detects fine motion. If you’re in the room reading, typing, or watching TV, the smart switch will keep your lights active. Leave the room and the lights will switch off until you enter again, ensuring you don’t waste electricity and money on an empty room.

  1. My Smart Blinds

These smart blinds provide two levels of intelligence to manage privacy and energy in your home. The blinds are app-controlled, allowing you to open and close them from your phone or tablet. Turn the blinds to “Energy Saving Mode,” and they’ll sense the light coming through the windows and automatically close when the windows heat up, saving money on energy bills that can skyrocket in the sunny summer months.

  1. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

This smart irrigation controller features an easy-to-navigate app that indicates yard zones and types of foliage to provide maximum control over how and when your yard is watered. The device also adapts to the needs of your yard, drawing on weather data, seasonal trends, plant and soil varieties, and sun exposure by zone to tailor the most effective and energy-efficient watering solution.

  1. EvaDrop Smart Shower

The makers of the EvaDrop Smart Shower claim it can save up to 50% on water bills. The system uses a sensor to modify water flow based on your location in the shower. If you step away to condition your hair or shave, the device will automatically reduce the water flow until you move closer to rinse off. The app will even track your water usage and quantify your savings.