PayPal Beacon to beam automatic, hands-free mobile payments

PayPal mobile hands-free payment
No more cash and no more cards in a PayPal future.

PayPal has launched Beacon, which will let you pay for things without having to pull out your wallet or your smartphone.

PayPal released a new app last week, which further integrated digital wallet transactions in bricks-and-mortar settings by letting customers check-in, order and pay for things straight from their mobile phones at participating stores.

PayPal's Beacon takes this technology further in the form of a low-energy USB Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communicator that merchants can install into their system, allowing customers to automatically check-in.

"PayPal Beacon opens the door to a fundamentally different way to use technology to make shopping more valuable and more personal for consumers and retailers," said David Marcus, president of PayPal.

So while swiping and tapping cards may have only recently become a norm for most, PayPal is pushing for more – or less, so to speak.

"We challenged ourselves to find a better experience than swiping a credit card. We figured the only better way to pay would be to do nothing," he said.

"Just walk in a store, and, like magic, when you're ready to pay, money is transferred securely. No wallet. No card. Nothing to do. Not even touching your phone."

Hands-free payment

According to PayPal, on the merchants end, Beacon is a simple add-on USB to any Point-of-Sale systems that are compatible with PayPal.

Users will have the option to set which stores they automatically get checked into (like your usual morning coffee shop), which ones will have automatic payments, and which will require approval for payments.

PayPal also assures us that customer's won't be tracked, and unless you check-in, no information will be passed onto PayPal or the merchant.

While all this hands-free shopping sounds very exciting, the Beacon device won't be ready for merchants until next year.

And of course, there may also be hiccups with wrongful charges or customers walking away without paying, but we'd assume all these will be ironed out by PayPal by next year.

  • This new technology is only confirming our views on the death of cash.