PayPal’s Beacon shines the way for instore payments

After a few days of Apple tech, I thought it would be good to show that there are other potential solutions using Beacon Technology.  Hands down, my favourite of the moment has to be PayPal’s solution for how Beacons are going to change our lives. ( and they are out now in the UK)

What are PayPal’s Beacons?

PPaypal BeaconayPal’s beacons are tiny devices that stores can plug-in to their wall sockets which broadcast a low powered bluetooth signal within the store.  This signal allows people  to pay using the PayPal App for goods and services.  Based on the same technology as Apple’s Beacon technology, it is supported by most modern Android and Iphone Devices.

What do they do?

PayPal have put together a good YouTube overview of how the system works.
For some reason they seem to have used the cliché of a women running which now seems to be the standard way that videos about the future are created by big companies.  I am not sure why women will spend so much time running to get round in the future. ( Maybe all driverless cars are too buggy to make road travel safe??)  Semantics aside, the video is a great showcase of what the promise of PayPals’ Beacon technology has.

Paypal App Screenshot
Paypal In-store beacons are already being used by the UK High Street stores

A Run-through of the Beacon shopping experience

  1. When a shopper walks into a beacon enabled shop, they will usually get a notification via the PayPal app so they know they can use it to pay.
  2. The shop owner will also receive a push notification that a shopper with a compatible device is in the store.
  3. When the customer wants to buy, the cashier will send a push notification to the customer’s phone.
  4. After a quick confirmation via the PayPal app, PayPal will transfer the funds to the merchant.

As this was a cashless transaction, the “cashier” could have been a member of staff in the store, which means that staff aren’t sitting behind a desk trying to take payment, they are on the shop floor trying to help customers.

Why this could just work, if they only just talk about it


The advantage that Apple has with their Beacon Technology, is that they already have a large user base and a global marketing machine.   They also have the global weight of the large Credit Card companies like Visa and MasterCard.
When I tried out the PayPal Beacon technology, I was really impressed by the simplicity and quality.  PayPal have done a huge amount of work in making the technology accessible and easy.

paypalThe challenge for PayPal is going to be getting it to the point of mass adoption.  By just restricting the marketing efforts to just going after retailers, as they have with their main payment system, won’t pay off in the long-term. For PayPal and their beacon tech to win out, they will need to throw some serious money behind getting people’s mind share and setting an expectation that people should just expect to be able to pay on PayPal in-store.

Hopefully with PayPal being spun off into its own company by its parent Ebay, will hopefully untie some of the hands at PayPal and let them chase their own future, and at the same time improve the way we pay for goods in-store.

What do you think about PayPal’s Beacons?  Would you use them?



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