When we packed up our possessions to be shipped overseas, there was a finite amount of space so a few items were put into the estate sale. One of these was Jana's computer monitor, and we also needed to buy a microwave (micro-ondas) as there was not one included with the apartment. The thought of wrestling them into the back of an Uber or a taxi was not that attractive, so Jana did what she does best: order these online to be delivered directly to our new home.
A visit to one of the Worten's bricks and mortar stores proved that we could source what we needed from them, so after some hunting online she found a Dell monitor and a Samsung microwave, both at reasonable prices. The delivery charge was about €7 (a little over $8). As she completed the order—this is where Google Translate comes in handy—she finally reached the payment section. Though we still have a U.S. credit card, we didn’t want to deal with the exchange rate so she chose Multibanco as our payment option.
So what’s this Multibanco? Fortunately, Portugal has one of Europe’s best banking systems and their ATM density per inhabitant is the second highest in Western Europe. Multibanco machines are everywhere, and they offer options not usually found on stateside ATM machines. Where in the States the process is rather speedy, here you’ll find people standing in front of the machine with papers in hand, clearly doing more than extracting money. If you need to pay your taxes or Social Security payments, there is a selection for that. Pay household and utility bills? Check. Transfer money between accounts or other financial institutions, buy minutes on your mobile phone, tickets for the cinema or a concert? You’re good to go. And, of course, get cash.
Fortunately there are plenty of machines so you don’t usually need to stand in line for very long. The Multibanco system works with banks all across Portugal, allowing you to do a number of online activities. Or, if you prefer, via a smartphone app.
Once Jana chose the Multibanco option for the Worten order, here’s where the process became interesting. After checkout, she received a text message with three numbers: the first indicated the store she'd ordered from was Worten, the second was a reference number for the order, and the third the amount due. What this amounted to is that they’d sent us a truncated electronic invoice and given us twenty-four hours to make the payment or the order would not proceed any further.
At this point we could have gone to the nearest ATM, input those three numbers, approved the transfer and the funds would have been credited to Worten's account. In our case, we did the same online. Unlike IKEA’s checkout process, Worten never sees our financial details, only the payment. Once that payment is received, we received another text letting us know that transfer was successful and that they’d get back to us to finalize delivery details.
Just WOW. That pretty much shuts down any hackers breaking into Worten’s server(s) and making off with your financial information, which is sadly far too common in the States. So far, the times we’ve used this process it’s been painless. We’ll definitely be using it in the future as our respect for the Multibanco system continues to grow.
Harold is a former software engineer. Jana is an author. Together they're exploring their new life in Portugal.