PayPal has revealed its latest service to enable shoppers to pay for things using their smartphones. Beacon is a Bluetooth-enabled gadget that can be installed in stores, allowing visiting consumers to connect with PayPal and pay via their phone.
Using Bluetooth Low Energy, the Beacon device can connect to most modern smartphones, and can even check consumers into the system when they arrive in stores, so that they can receive discount alerts and special offers. Consumers can choose when and where Beacon checks them in, and the device is said to be cheaper to use because it requires no data connection on behalf of the user nor does it compromise their battery life.
PayPal has made other earlier attempts to reinvent mobile payments, but this may be its boldest move yet. The company is desperate to remain relevant in an era where banks, cell phone providers, and other parties are making efforts to achieve mobile payments via systems like NFC or Square. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5S is said to include a fingerprint reader and possibly an NFC system, which could indicate the company is serious about entering the mobile payments space at last.