I just caught a post on Techcrunch that got me thinking about PayPal’s mobile strategy a bit … Apparently they’ve finally released a Symbian client following the long(er) standing clients for Blackberry, iOS and Android.
Apple and Google’s competing plans for NFC and the likelihood of competing payment services, you’ve got to wonder what PayPal has in store. As the current leader in P2P and longer tail transactions, they don’t have a scalable solution for real world commerce. PayPal is stuck in the matrix if you will. Bling Nation has enabled tests with NFC tags, but that’s really a bridge to integrated NFC and if the dominant players are unlikely to allow access to the secure elements within their systems (where payment and security live).
The ISIS consortium has yet to announce a handset partner, only that Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will all work together with Discover and Barclay’s. If the Google and Apple plans come forward as expected there will clearly be room for multiple payment options as both have devices on multiple carriers. I did a quick search this morning and found a piece recently posted on Fast Company claiming instead of NFC PayPal will instead focus on QR via their RedLaser application …
EBay’s solution is the humble QR code: a cheap and common successor to the barcode of yore. Late last year the auction giant acquired RedLaser, an iPhone and Android app that lets smartphones scan QR and UPC codes on retail goods to compare prices at brick-and-mortar and online retailers.
Rob Veres, eBay’s General Manager of Redlaser, says that the company’s recent QR pilot program with Atlantic Records has already proven that QR codes can create leads and drive sales, but he believes what small businesses really want is rewards programs that work as well as major retailers’. “The big guys already have their loyalty plans, but smaller businesses don’t,” says Veres.
EBay plans to change all that by taking a loose approach to geo-targeted discounts. Instead of requiring people to physically show up and “check in” to get deals, as on Foursquare, Veres says merchants can instead stick QR coupons in advertisements around town. Once captured by a user, that QR code can instruct the user’s phone to show information about the shop or product, search for price comparisons or ratings, or even initiate a purchase over the phone’s data connection. [Fast Company]
QR is again a bridge … and while there’s been considerable adoption, device integration and ease of use has not fully reached mass adoption. RedLaser is nearing 9 million users though so they are making some decent ground. Until there’s mobile web purchase for retail (particularly smb) this is not going to go too far. All of these plans lead to a wallet-like solution and you’ll want the full benefits not just a random purchase here or there.
So back to Nokia … I wonder if Nokia might end up being PayPal’s answer to the real world. While Nokia has effectively stalled in this market they are still the world leader in market share and have suggested all future devices will include NFC. They don’t have any public payment partners yet … Another option could be BlackBerry which has also said they will include NFC in future devices … again no payment partner here.
PayPal has evolved quickly, though they have stayed within the online realm. Bump accommodates some limited real-world p2p, but nothing close to real commerce – at least not yet. They’d better hurry as Visa is working back towards P2P with their own solution …