PayPal wants to turn your mobile phone into a mobile payment center, and it’s making it happen, roughly 15 retailers at a time.
That’s the number of partners PayPal has added to the consumer trials of its mobile wallet service, which allows users to make payments at retailers using their smartphones and PayPal accounts. Previously, PayPal’s service was only working with Home Depot stores; the list now includes Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Guitar Center, Jamba Juice, JC Penney, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Nine West, Office Depot, Rooms to Go, Tiger Direct and Toys "R" Us, according to a report from Fierce Mobile Content.
The expansion is a big move for PayPal’s wallet service, even though it’s still not fully ready for prime time yet. PayPal is looking to take on the likes of Google and the various U.S. credit card companies, which are developing app-related payment programs that allow users to simplify the brick-and-mortar transaction process. In the case of Google Wallet, for example, users can pay their bills using their smartphones and near-field technology, which sends a signal to a payment terminal when the smartphone is brought close enough to it. That signal carries not only credit card information, but also things like loyalty cards, all in one shot.
With PayPal, the company is looking to leverage its 104 million-user base and allow those customers to access their PayPal accounts even when they’re not sitting at a computer. The service doesn’t necessarily require special software or NFC-capable devices, either – PayPal is integrating with retailers’ existing systems and can provide a physical PayPal credit card to users, as well as app-based payment methods. The plus of PayPal’s system is that it allows businesses to target special deals at customers, and it allows customers to get those special deals that are only relevant to them, both of which PayPal facilitates.
It seems that PayPal’s system could really help drive the forward momentum of the trend to turn smartphones into payment hubs in everyday life, since so many people are already using the service online. That said, it’s still early in the process, and it’s tough to say just how widespread or useful PayPal’s wallet service – or any of the other wallet services in the space – is actually going to be. Hopefully before long, PayPal will be opening up the capabilities to all its customers and we can all see for ourselves.