PayPal Makes the Smartwatch Smarter

As if Starbucks needed to make it easier to part with $6 for a latte, the coffee giant has volunteered its San Jose location, on PayPal’s campus, to become a pilot tester for PayPal’s new wireless payment system built for the Samsung Galaxy Gear line.  The process sounds simple – the user’s name and photo pop up on the computer at the register, a push notification is sent to the watch when the sale is rung up, and the user confirms payment with a tap.  Bluetooth LE technology is already making our lives easier and more exciting, and this payment system is a realistic vision of a potentially very near future.

Samsung s5 Authenticates PayPal Payments

Amongst the new features on Samsung’s new s5 is fingerprint authentication. It didn’t get much attention, though, because at first it seemed like a simple catch-up to Apple’s developments. Nonetheless, it turns out that Samsung partnered with PayPal to develop a unique encrypted key that lets PayPal verify users’ identities via the fingerprint authentication, and thus pay with PayPal from the phone. With the simple swipe of a finger to authenticate identity, PayPal users can use the phone as their wallet. Though Apple is behind, they’ve made noise about fingerprint-authenticated payments as well – they’ve got one of the largest credit card repositories on the planet at the moment; all they need to do is leverage it. At the moment, though, Samsung’s beat them to it. 

Coin Consolidates Cards For Flexible Payments

Coin may stand a chance to revolutionize the payments space by allowing you to consolidate your bank and loyalty cards onto a single platform. The Kickstarter project allows you to tie all of your cards to a single one via bluetooth and then actively manage which one you use through an app. Unlike other payment startups, Coin is not a disruptive technology, but an enabler; one that lets you pay chiefly the same way you always did but with more flexibility. While they may run into some friction with banks and merchants who have not sanctioned this activity, the utility Coin provides is worht of attention.

PayPal Partners With Samsung

PayPal announced a new partnership with Samsung that will help users and developers alike pay, and get paid, for mobile content. Samsung Apps developers can now work with PayPal as a payout option, while Samsung Apps and Hub users can authenticate payPal to pay for anything they want on the service. Though it’s available for developers globally, it’s only available for users to pay in Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain and the UK. The US isn’t far behind. By using the most popular e-commerce solution for both users and third-party developers, Samsung gets to naturally spread its consumer base, while PayPal gets to expand its reach into even more mobile devices. No longer will transactions be held up through wire transfers. 

PayPal Testing Face Verification

The mobile payments app is reportedly testing face-verification for its mobile payment transactions. There’s a tab labeled “Local,” that allows users to find nearby stores that accept PayPal payments – as well as check into venues online that thereafter displays their name and photo in the PayPal app. Store owners can use the app to pay for things, and cashiers can use profile photos to check the identity of the customer. Though PayPal is marketing this as a more “personalized” shopping experience, some are worried about the privacy implications of such a “Minority Report” like system. Useful or overstepping bounds? We’ll have to wait and see what backlash, if any, results. 

Facebook & JackThreads Partner For Mobile E-Commerce Payments

According to reports, Facebook is offering mobile shoppers the ability to pay with Facebook via their login credentials the same way that users can pay with PayPal, and the pilot program will feature JackThreads. Facebook users often already have credit card details on file with Facebook if they’ve purchased Facebook Credits and Gifts, and those members would be able to use those same stored details to purchase real-world items from mobile apps without having to re-enter credit card information. It would provide Facebook with an immense amount of detail about purchasing habits and e-commerce intent, and would also stack up as a formidable contender to PayPal’s present dominance of the mobile e-commerce market. 

Google Wallet Takes On Paypal

One of the more under-the-radar announcements at Google’s I/O conference was Google Wallet. While the idea clearly isn’t the showpiece of Google’s annual conference, it’s nonetheless a direct attack on other payment systems, and leverages Chrome, Android, Google+, and Gmail to undercut competitors. For instance, Google plans to combat shopping-cart-abandonment – which, globally, occurs at a staggering rate of 82% – through Chrome. When you visit a shopping site with Chrome – already the world’s most popular browser – your billing and shipping information will be baked into the browser. You’ll be prompted with your shipping, billing, and credit card information through the browser, and Google says it pares down the checkout from 21 steps to just 3. The biggest sticking point of this part of Google Wallet, though, is that website owners have to implement the API on their end, so the potential impact is inherently limited unless it becomes the industry standard. At the same time, Google has also introduced a mobile API that would allow e-commerce websites to support checkout via Google Wallet, setting up a direct alternative to the PayPal button. It’s similar to the Chrome system, but as it’s early days for the technology, there aren’t many more details revealed yet. 

More impressively though, Google Wallet has extended its Android reach into the physical world. Merchants and Developers are now able to sell physical goods and services through Google Wallet, and can now offer Android users two-click checkout. Partners include Airbnb, Expedia, Uber, Wrapp, Rue La La, and more. What’s more, though, is that Google Wallet also functions in Gmail, leveraging the peer-to-peer element of email to enable person-to-person payments. With Gmail’s latest update, users can now “attach money” to an email, to transfer funds between people, say, to the babysitter instead of cash, etc. Google Wallet still falls behind functions like PayPal and Square in the real-world department, and it’s unclear what Plan B is if NFC fails. At the same time, though, there’s a new hat in the ‘Wallet’ ring, one to be watched closely. 

Ribbon Launches Hashtag-Free Payments On Twitter & YouTube

Payments startup Ribbon, which enables purchases on social media sites, is launching new Twitter and YouTube platforms.  On Twitter the service takes full advantage of the expanded Cards feature— users simply click on a “Buy Now” button and then input credit card information all within Twitter.  On YouTube, the integration comes via in-video annotations, which allow you to click to purchase on a Ribbon checkout page.  The conventional wisdom is that conversion rates are highest when you don’t have to leave a site to purchase, so expect Ribbon to create great opportunities for brands.

Infographic: U.S. Mobile Shoppers To Hit 111 Million In 2015

With the majority of Americans armed with smartphones, mobile shopping is reaching critical mass. Mashable has published a comprehensive infographic that maps out the trend, predicting mobile shoppers to grow to 111 million by 2015, up from 35 million in 2010. Books/magazines, tickets and music/videos are among the most popular purchases.