PayPal takes us shopping

PayPal has been investing a lot of time re-examining the world of payments. Its conclusion is that mobile payments is about shopping not about payments. According to the official blog, penned by Sam Shrauger, Vice President, Global Product & Experience, PayPal is “redefining the future of money”. It is not about “replacing a card swipe with a phone tap at point of sale”, the company has completely redesigned its offering to fit more naturally to both the customer experience and the needs of the merchant.

The new customer version, which Shrauger demoed at SXSW, aims to “filter money, personalize it, share it and make it work the way that you want it to”. PayPal have gone beyond the constrictions of feature sets and will evolve the wallet to keep up with customer behaviour as it evolves in the mobile and digital worlds.

Some of the new functionality includes ‘buying’ something in a store and deciding later whether you want it, using PayPal’s 5-7 day grace period, or whether you want it but would rather pay for it in installments. You can set the wallet up to search for items you want, compare prices, find deals, collect coupons and create rules for personal savings. It can also combine loyalty point with gift cards and top up from a credit card. In other words, it is as flexible as the customer wants it to be. The vision is bigger and broader and, to PayPal, a mobile, digital wallet should simply be as flexible as a physical wallet.

Meanwhile PayPal has addressed the merchants’ needs too. Much has been written about the merchants’ dilemma around NFC – the need and the risk in having to install new terminals in an age when a newer, simpler, better solutions could be just around the corner. Well, this could be the newer, simpler, better solution.

The new service, dubbed ‘PayPal Here’ aims to allow small businesses to accept a range of payments. An app and a card reader will turn any iPhone or Android into a mobile payment service. Small businesses – anyone selling anything in fact – can send invoices or accept debit and credit cards, cheques and PayPal. They can set payment terms directly from the app but will pay a flat rate of 2.7%. Soon, local functionality will appear, allowing merchants to be ‘seen’ by customers in the area.

With the banking and parts of the telecoms industry labouring away at the specific transactional piece of mobile payments and possibly forcing themselves into an NFC cul-de-sac, PayPal seems to stealing a march by simply going shopping.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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