NEW YORK — PayPal, the online payments and money transfers giant, wants to play in the off-line world.
“The idea is to become as ubiquitous as American Express is offline,” said a spokeswoman, noting that PayPal processed nearly $92 billion in total payment volume last year. PayPal said the new services may help boost its volume of transactions in 2012 beyond the $100 billion the company expects to report this year.
“We’re not asking merchants to upgrade their technology,” the spokeswoman said. Nor will consumers be required to upgrade their technology, change their bank accounts or adopt any new behavior, she said.
PayPal’s new mobile payments platform stores gift cards and loyalty points and automatically applies the stored money and savings for customers at the point of sale. Consumer functions include geo-coded mobile advertising, barcode scanning for in-store offers, real-time inventory scanning, payments using mobile devices and POS terminals, and PayPal’s virtual wallet that accesses the user’s underlying bank account and credit cards.
Shoppers can use cash, credit, pay in installments, or split a bill, dividing the charges over more than one card. The barcode scanner in the app can be used to find the best deals; items can be paid for right in the store aisle.
“For retailers, we’re rolling out a one-stop shop to engage their customers through relevant offers that are location and list-based,” the spokeswoman said. “We’re making payments accessible from any device, not just from the mobile phone. You can enter your mobile phone number and a four-digit pin into the pin pad at the register. No phone, no wallet, no problem.”
She said PayPal represents a value to merchants: “With no extra fees, PayPal’s product for merchants is on average up to 14 percent less expensive than other credit card processors online.”
PayPal isn’t the only company introducing a virtual wallet. Google in May revealed plans for Google Wallet — consumers can use it to tap, pay and save using their phone and near field communication. Visa said it will launch a virtual wallet system in August or September.
“The credit cards are still our partners,” the PayPal spokeswoman said. “We have a great relationship with them. We’re getting larger merchants interested. We’ll have one customer in beta by the end of the year and 20 by mid-2012.” She declined to name the participating retailers.
PayPal is leasing for four months a vacant retail space at 174 Hudson Street here, where it will present the technology to retailers. PayPal, an eBay Inc. company, hired Barneys New York creative ambassador Simon Doonan to give the windows his signature crafty, cheeky look. Doonan filled the space with 3,000 fully jointed wooden artist models in various sizes. In the center window they are woven into a wreath.
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