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Summary:

A USB stick-like device communicates with existing point of sale systems and a customer’s mobile PayPal app to provide a hands-free, cash-free checkout.

PayPal mobile app wallet
photo: PayPal

The future, according to PayPal, is retailers knowing exactly when you arrive and exactly when you depart with ample opportunity to deliver you content in between. PayPal Vice President of Global Product Hill Ferguson just revealed Beacon, a USB stick that communicates with shoppers’ mobile phones via low-energy Bluetooth to automatically check them in, offer discounts and enable a hands-free checkout.

PayPal Beacon

“No taps, no swipes, no signatures. The payment completely gets out of your way,” Ferguson said.

Retailers combine Beacon with an existing point-of-sale system. It communicates with customers’ PayPal mobile app and automatically pulls up their name and picture on the PoS system. When they check out, the person at the register can greet them by name and verify by their picture the charge should be sent to them.

Customers also have the option to customize the Beacon experience. They can require a manual PayPal check-in at the store or approval for purchases above a certain price.

Ferguson said PayPal is opening Beacon to developers, who he thinks will find applications for the time between a customer entering a store and checking out. I take that to mean interacting with products and sales, such as the interactive grocery aisles Intel debuted earlier this year.

PayPal will release Beacon next year. It will likely prompt the usual privacy outcry from critics, but Beacon sounds like a good way to further reduce friction when it comes to card- and cash-free payments.

  1. This is a way to piggy back on the upcoming iBeacon service from Apple I guess….

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  2. Paypal is introducing nice features.

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  3. Really? Are we STILL talking about Paypal’s crap attempts at making mobile payment services no one is interested in using?

    Move on already. Aint. gonna. happen.

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  4. Love the idea of not falling in line anymore or just even waiting. But I rarely have bluetooth on. Who has BT on all the time? And then there’s all the bad rap about PayPal. Personally, I’ve never had any issues with them..except for the fact that they took so long to get PayPal Here here in the UK. Good thing there are other mobile payment providers just as awesome such as mPowa (http://goo.gl/L03lj) here when I needed a card reader.

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