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Today PayPal opened up a new front in its strategy to expand its role in mobile payments, a business PayPal projects will generate it $7 billion in revenue this year. The eBay-owned payments company today launched a new retail mobile payments app for iOS and Android devices, PayPal InStore, where users can create barcodes that get scanned to deduct payments from users’ PayPal accounts. Available only in the UK, clothing chains Coast, Oasis, Warehouse, and Karen Millen are the first to sign on to the service, and PayPal tells me there are no plans to add NFC to the app any time soon.
I asked PayPal whether the door is open for the app to be upgraded to NFC when the chip technology is more ubiquitous — it would certainly make sense, given that it would speed up use of the service. The answer? Not really.
“We think that it will take years for NFC to get any kind of traction in stores, but we are helping retailers roll out mobile payments quickly and cheaply now,” said Ron Skinner, PayPal’s spokesperson in the UK. “We’re not dismissing NFC but our point is that the world may have moved on by the time NFC gets some kind of scale.”
This appears to be the first time that PayPal has launched a barcode-based app. It is not available in the U.S. and Skinner says there are no plans to roll it out elsewhere, either.
So far, we’ve seen a lot of efforts, including Google Wallet, the Isis consortium, and several commercial projects in Europe (eg, France Telecom working with Visa) — but no clear leader in NFC emerging out of all of that.