PayPal’s mobile, physical retail efforts gain steam

March 13, 2013

PayPal efforts to process more mobile payments  – online and in the real world – are gaining steam.

Almost a year ago, the company unveiled PayPal Here, a small triangular device that plugs into smartphones to let small merchants accept credit and debit cards. The launch put PayPal in direct competition with start-up Square Inc and was a coming out party of sorts for David Marcus, the new president of PayPal.

After a year, PayPal Here has signed up “hundreds of thousands” of merchants worldwide, PayPal says. (It won’t say exactly how many).

On Feb. 22, PayPal launched PayPal Here in the U.K. and unveiled a bigger, bluetooth card reading device for the service to handle tougher technology and regulatory requirements in Europe. Check out the story here.

On Wednesday, PayPal said that about 11,000 merchants expressed an interest in getting PayPal Here during the first few days following the U.K. launch.

In Japan, PayPal Here card readers are now available in 2,700 SoftBank Mobile stores through a joint venture with the Asian Internet giant.

PayPal Here also launched an app for Apple iPads on Wednesday, making the service available to merchants who want use the tablets as point-of-sale devices. The app includes log in capabilities for multiple staff, a bar code scanner for products and merchant reports such as daily transaction summaries.

One important thing for investors to note: none of these efforts are included in PayPal’s forecast that it will process $20 billion in mobile payments this year.

PayPal Here and the broader push into physical retail stores are known as “proximity” payments within the company. These are payments where the customer has to be physically present or near the merchant. PayPal has not issued any guidance to Wall Street on how big “proximity” payments will be. That may come later this year. Analysts and investors have high hopes and will be watching closely.

 

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