Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

PayPal Wants You to Shop While Straphanging In Singapore

Mobile shopping is getting even more mobile.

No longer just about using your smartphone to make purchases, mobile payment options are now popping up in transit systems in metropolitan areas, as companies look to gauge consumers’ appetites for buying products while truly on the go.

EBay-owned PayPal has just launched a pilot in Singapore’s subway stations for commuters to buy goods while en route. The experiment, through which eight merchants will offer Valentine’s Day gifts at reduced prices, is being conducted across 15 subway stations across Singapore.

Commuters can make purchases by using their smartphone to scan a QR code on a billboard or poster, and can then pay through a PayPal account. (For those wondering how cell service might work while riding a subway, Singapore has long boasted complete underground coverage, in addition to being one of the most Wi-Fi-friendly cities in the world.)

Earlier this week, New Yorkers learned that they would be able to purchase beauty products while riding in some taxicabs, with just a swipe of their smartphones.

Launched by Glamour magazine as part of a Fashion Week experiment, 50 Manhattan cabs will be equipped with SnapTags from technology company SpyderLynk; according to a Wall Street Journal report, VeriFone, which handles payments for New York City cabs, will power the beauty product purchases, as well.

The experiment was inspired by the virtual stores launched in the Seoul subway system by the Tesco supermarket chain, the Journal says.

While mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular — even the Obama campaign has hopped on board — the companies pushing mobile payments forward are divided on their approach to the technology. Square, for example, uses a dongle that plugs into the iPhone to accept mobile credit card payments; it also offers an app that uses geo-fencing to allow a customer to pay when he or she is within a certain distance from a store. Google’s mobile payments app, Google Wallet, uses near field communication technology to transmit payments.

For PayPal, which recently doubled its mobile payments predictions for 2012 to $7 billion, the emphasis has been on options that don’t require near field communication; which, as my AllThingsD colleague Tricia Duryee points out, can be a limiting factor for adoption.

PayPal says that, aside from a smartphone and an app with bar-code scanning capability, no additional infrastructure — such as an NFC-equipped terminal — is required for merchants, retailers and consumers to participate in the Singapore pilot.

Late last year, PayPal began testing point-of-sale purchasing at Home Depot retail stores, in which a select group of PayPal employees can purchase items by using a PayPal-issued credit card or by entering an account number at the register.

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