PayPal (s ebay) has been at the payments business for 13 years but hasn’t done much to overhaul the consumer experience of its digital wallet. But the company is poised to launch a wholly redesigned payment system, which it will provide a sneak preview of next week at South by Southwest in advance of a big launch this summer.
In a blog post out today, VP of global product and experience Sam Shrauger, said he will be demonstrating the new payment experience at SXSW and showing how it will go beyond a simple mobile wallet. PayPal will increasingly stress the digital aspect of its wallet and how it can liberate money from traditional constraints, separating payments from purchases. What that means is that PayPal is going to show how people can apply more control over the way they use and manage their money, not just at the time of a purchase but before and after. Shrauger writes:
I’ll demo an intelligent wallet that will do for digital money what internet mash-ups did for digital information: free it, so you can connect it, filter it, personalize it, share it and make it work for the way that you want it to. Because PayPal’s wallet is digital – not just mobile, digital – it lets consumers do things with their money that have never been possible before.
We’ve talked about some of the ways PayPal wants to update the use of money. One feature will be to allow people to buy a product and then decide up to a week later how they want to fund the purchase. They will be able to change the funding source, pay in installments or combine loyalty rewards and giftcards with other sources. Users will also be able to create lists of items they want to buy and the PayPal wallet will be able find and store deals and coupons for those products when a user gets to a store. PayPal users will also be able to specify what funds are used on certain purchases or merchants and set rules on spending.
Anuj Nayar, a PayPal spokesman told me the first iterations of the new wallet experience should come out starting in late May. It will be adapted for online, mobile web and apps but will emphasize a common connection to a user’s digital account. After spending the last eight months working on recruiting retailers to PayPal’s new in-store payment system, he said the focus is now on getting the consumer experience right and putting the company’s plans into practice.
He said PayPal is trying to differentiate itself from other mobile payment competitors by working not just at the point of sale but by exploring all the benefits that can be had when money goes digital.
“Once you break down the old rules, it’s all digital and you can start doing cool stuff like a money mashup,” Nayar said. “We’re not just taking the existing analog form of payment and moving it to a device, we’re fundamentally changing what it means to be in control of money.”
Many of PayPal’s goals are shared by competitors. More and more, rivals are all stressing the need to add more value to their mobile wallet offerings and go beyond just replacing a credit card. But PayPal has a lot of assets that it’s bringing to bear and a lot of experience in online payments. More recently, it’s bought companies like BillMeLater, WHERE, Milo and Red Laser, which are all poised to help enhance PayPal’s payment system. I’ll be interested to see how the payment experience evolves for PayPal. Some of PayPal’s features like being able to change payments after the fact are pretty interesting and unique. But we will have to see more of the final product and the retailer support to know just how powerful PayPal’s redesigned wallet will be.