PayPal and SMS: a reassuring combination

I bought my early-bird ticket for Reading Twestival this morning,  paying for it via PayPal.

The simple purchase transaction I completed in a couple of minutes reminded me how much I place trust in PayPal, partly because of its neat one-time code by SMS message security procedure – what it calls its SMS Security Key – that I find reassuring.


I’ve been using this system for most of this year. I find it convenient and easy: what gadget are you most likely to have with you at nearly all times? Right, your mobile phone.

How it works is quite simple from a user perspective.

First, you register your mobile phone number with your PayPal account. Then, next time you log in to your account on the web, you enter your login ID and password as usual. You then get a page like the screenshot above.

When you click the ‘Send SMS’ button,’ you receive a text message on your mobile phone with the 6-digit code, valid only for about 60 seconds from when you receive it. You enter the code in the field on the web page, hit ‘Submit’ and you’re then into your account.

Is it totally foolproof? Actually, I have no idea. Reasonably foolproof, I’d say. But I find it reassuring as it makes it harder for some crook to try and get into my account: without the SMS code, you’re at a brick wall.

I wish my bank had something simple like this (as I’ve suggested every time I get an online survey when logging in or out of my account).


Regarding Reading Twestival, this is the most local (to me) of the local Twestivals being organized around the world between September 10 and 13 (the Reading event is on September 10), the second Twestival events this year.

Worth supporting. And very easy to buy your ticket with PayPal.

Btw, thanks for the nudge, Katherine :)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Bryan Person

    Love the idea of doing banking from my mobile phone, Neville. As with you, it’s not yet available from my institution. I did actually log into my account one time through my iPhone browser, but it wasn’t a mobile-friendly site and the experience was too slow and painful to do on a regular basis.

    Hey, if PayPal can do it, I see no reason why our local banks can’t do so as well. Just a matter of making it a priority.

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