Originally Posted by Gunbot
Money orders are still a very big thing here in the States. Every major grocery market has a Western Union inside the store. The U.S. Post Offices offers them also. Wal-Mart charges only 70 cents for money orders up to $1,000, which is probably the cheapest rate we have here.
Do they have something similar in the U.K./Europe?
Not really, we've had personal online banking since the 80s over here in Finland, direct money transfers to your friend's account in the same day if it's the same bank or overnight if it's to a competing bank. All you need is your friend's account number. No, the account number is not enough to withdraw all the cash from their account - it's just an account number.
I haven't seen a cheque since the 80s, except for when I bought a house. Then the bank printed a cheque that I saw for two minutes as I handed it over to the seller. Part of the ritual I guess.
These days I also use IBAN+BIC transfers a lot to get money into euro zone countries, it's free up to 25000 euro and the transfer is overnight or two days. Only the UK guys seem to love paypal, apparently their online banking experience is terrible and paypal seems like a huge improvement. :-D