In Silicon Valley, Forget Your Wallet–But Not Your Phone

Two pilot programs by start-ups in Silicon Valley are testing ways to bring to market a long-promised innovation of the Internet era: the digital wallet.

In one, eBay’s (EBAY) PayPal online payments business is equipping some 2,000 of its own employees in San Jose with stickers from a company called Bling Nation that turn any phone into an instant payment device just by tapping it on a sensor. (The sticker tags have small chips in them that can be read by a machine that looks like a normal credit-card swiper.)

Bling Nation is outfitting all of the cafeterias on PayPal’s campus, as well as about 35 other merchants in the area, with readers for its system. PayPal doesn’t have a financial interest in Bling Nation, but the company is using PayPal accounts and technology to fund purchases made through its system.

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