PayPal Finally Tries To Catch Up With Square

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Photo: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Business Insider

PayPal had a big event yesterday about the company’s mobile strategy and enabling payments on the go. Here’s a long story about it at AllThingsD. This is an area where Square has been eating PayPal’s lunch: the mobile payments startup has been growing like crazy and fulfilling a true need in the marketplace. Some of the things PayPal announced are somewhat hokey (paying by inputing your phone number and pin code at a payment terminal instead of using your credit card–how is that more convenient or useful?) but the interesting ones are interesting. 

One scenario they showed off in particular: “In this scenario, a customer in a store sees a barbecue set that they’d like to buy. Using the phone, they scan the barcode. PayPal would find that exact item that is in stock at that retailer, and the user would be able to check-out in the aisle and have the item shipped to his or her address without ever going to the register.” If they can make it happen, that would be a very powerful product. eBay, which owns PayPal, recently bought the startup Milo that helps online consumers know about inventory in stores, which would help here.

More generally, PayPal is showing off an ambitious vision of being everywhere and allowing you to pay in any way: NFC, plastic (non-Visa or MasterCard) cards, etc. As we said, some of the bits of the vision don’t make sense, but the overall vision is certainly interesting and ambitious.

Here’s the PayPal video talking about their announcement:

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