PayPal Beacon, a new way to shop and checkout at offline stores

paypalIn a bid to dominate the brick and mortar shopping market, PayPal has designed a USB stick like device known as PayPal Beacon that connects directly with a customer’s mobile PayPal app to do cash free transactions.

Beacon uses a bluetooth communication rather than Near-Field-Communication (NFC) to allow connection between a consumer and a retailer. As soon as a customer enters a shop, the device sends a message to the customer (on PayPal mobile app) as well as the retailer as a check-in notification, providing customers with various discount offers running in the store and lets them pay as well without having any need to stand in the long queues.

“Bluetooth Low Energy device”, as the name implies, is a low-energy technology, so the Beacon hardware can presumably hold a charge for a very long time. And since all smartphones have an inbuilt Bluetooth the Beacon is compatible with any smartphone you buy, at least in theory. Moreover it always requires a consumer to have a PayPal mobile app installed in his/her mobile phone.

“Over the last 50 years, payment methods have evolved slowly, and NFC technology in the phone is not that much different than swiping a card.” said Hill Ferguson, VP of global product at PayPal, during a presentation at TechCrunch Disrupt. “Beacon removes even more friction. There is no swipe or tap. You can pay with your identity, instead of paying with card or cash.”

As per the company, Beacon will be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. So is it coming to India ? Well, the chances are quite slim for it to be released in India anytime soon – looking at PayPal’s history with India.

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However, the company indeed foresees Indian ecommerce as a quite promising market if compared to other international markets – as told by Lawrence Chan, VP & GM at PayPal, to Iamwire in an interview earlier this month. But given the unorganised nature of offline/online Indian shopping market – any international company would not be willing to risk any new product launches here. So it might take some time for PayPal Beacon to arrive, and by then we look forward to see some promising technology startup to come up with a similar solution.

To contact author email devesh@wirefootindia.com

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