updated 07:56 am EDT, Tue September 10, 2013
Plug-in dongle detects PayPal app on smartphones, alerts merchant
PayPal has introduced a new dongle for mobile transactions that allows for hands-free payments in stores. The PayPal Beacon, designed to be plugged in at retail environments, uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to communicate with smartphones running the PayPal mobile app, with customers able to allow payments to continue by confirming with store employees, rather than pressing anything on their smartphone.
Customers will be alerted to automatic check-ins at a store by a sound or vibration from their smartphone, while at the same time a photo of the customer will appear on the retailer's point of sale system, writes the company. The shop can then take a verbal confirmation from the customer for a payment to go through. Users of the PayPal app will be able to control which stores will be able to see their arrival on the checkout screen, can take automatic payments, or to force smartphone alerts to confirm that a payment can be processed.
The addition of check-in detection allows for more personalized shopping experiences to be created, ranging from advising the check-out staff of the user's name, or allowing for pre-ordered items to be brought out to the customer upon their arrival. There is also the option of shops preparing a "usual order" for the customer, automatically charging them afterwards.
PayPal will be piloting the payment system in the fourth quarter of this year, with 100 developers receiving a free Beacon device and access to its API, with a full roll-out planned for early 2014.