In an attempt to further eliminate credit cards from our lives, PayPal has introduced Beacon, a wireless access point that will enable hands-free shopping with phones in its range.
The merchant plugs the small USB Beacon, leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy, into a power source and then the device pings any smartphone with the PayPal app that walks through the door, allowing the customer to check in through their mobile device. Once in, customers can pay through their phone via the app or voice command or purchase ahead of time and pick up when they swing through the store.
Any merchants running PayPal-enabled point-of-sale options like Booker, Erply, Leaf, Leapset, Micros, NCR, PayPal Here, Revel, ShopKeep, TouchBistro and Vend, will be able to just plug and play with the Beacon.
Customers will allow the Beacon access to their PayPal account in order to process transactions but PayPal swears that if customers choose not to check in upon entering a store, Beacon will not continue tracking you.
PayPal will start demoing the device and service in the fourth quarter of 2013 with plans for a full rollout next year. Additionally, PayPal is opening the APIs to developers in order for more location-based functions to be added to the experience.
Options like Isis—a joint venture of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile—have already had some success attracting consumers to mobile payments but have really only changed the checkout process. Beacon seems to have the potential to remove steps from the shopping process which could make it a more attractive option for late adopters.