Radical PayPal app upgrade streamlines in-store payments

The goal of getting rid of your wallet – and moving all of your financial transactions to your cell phone – just got one step closer. Venerable online banking and payments processor PayPal has overhauled its mobile app, “completely reimagining” it to make mobile payments of all kinds easier than ever.

The centerpiece of the app is a big upgrade to the way in-store payments work. A new tab on the app reading “Shop” lets you find stores or restaurants nearby that accept PayPal as a form of payment. You can check in via the app, as well as pay for goods or services directly on the same screen. After the transaction is complete, your receipt is sent to you via email.

The app also greatly enhances your ability as a user to manage the payments process without having to rely on a waiter or shop merchant to help you out. At quick-service establishments you can order ahead, skip the line to pay, and just grab your item and dash. All of this is built into the PayPal app, including restaurants’ full menus.

Of course, the PayPal system also works if you’re dining or shopping at a more conventional restaurant or store. But instead of having to hand your credit card to a server or cashier, wait for them to return with a paper credit card slip to sign, then finally complete your transaction, now you can settle up whenever it suits you (including adding tips) – and, in some cases, even throw in another couple of drinks to the bill on the fly.

Nearly all of PayPal’s desktop features are also built into the mobile app, too, from checking your balance to reviewing recent transactions to even choosing PayPal’s “Bill Me Later” option that lets you use flexible financing to pay for larger purchases.

Whew! The upgrades with which PayPal has stuffed its mobile app seem to be just what the nascent mobile payments business needs. To date, consumers have been cautious in their adoption of these systems; despite the hype, you probably haven’t handed your credit card over to someone using a Square reader (or similar) more than a handful of times. Expanding what you can do with the PayPal mobile app – which doesn’t require providing a physical credit card – could dramatically increase consumer’s comfort level with mobile payments in this early and critical stage.

From here on out, things could get even more exciting. The PayPal app already runs on most Android and other mobile OS handsets, but what happens when this kind of technology gets built into other portable devices? Imagine a future where NFC technology lets you pay for products with a quick wave of a Snapdragon-powered smartphone, or even your Qualcomm Toq smart watch. It’s probably not that far off.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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