Most Innovative Companies 2012: PayPal, Where Are They Now?

In the year since we featured the payments company, Google, Square, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and others have entered the space.

2012 was quite the active year for the mobile payments industry: Google Wallet expanded support for most major credit card providers; Square struck up a mega-partnership to bring its payments tech to Starbucks; and Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, not to be left out, shepherded the launch of their own mobile wallet, Isis. And let's not forget the host of upstarts that continued to ratchet up their prominence this year, such as LevelUp and Lemon.

In other words, it's been a tough year for PayPal, the eBay subsidiary and payments veteran who was #43 on our list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2012.

Not to be discouraged, PayPal's continued to make a handful of aggressive plays to grow its own slice of the mobile payments space, both online and in stores.

Building on its push to bring PayPal to brick-and-mortar retail locations, first launched with Home Depot in early 2011, PayPal this year announced two major partnerships. The first, with Verifone, brings PayPal tech to large-scale, nationwide retailers. The second, with Discover, will allow customers to pay with their PayPal account at any retail location that accepts Discover, using just their phone number and a PayPal PIN number, rather than cash or cards.

PayPal's also put a lot of muscle and money into PayPal Here, its dongle-based Square clone of a mobile payments solution that targets the same small-businesses audience.

The company has also begun to look beyond the swipe for ways to attract customers to choose PayPal as their preferred payments method, no matter where they are, such as its holiday-season tactic of offering shoppers price guarantees and free return shipping on certain items.

[Image: Flickr user Jesse S.]

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