As if NFC payments just weren’t convenient enough, PayPal has announced Beacon, a completely hands-free payment method that uses Bluetooth to transmit data and payment information. Stores will be able to set it up at their cash registers and customers will be able to buy something without even pulling their phone out of their pocket.
PayPal users will be able to decide which stores are added to a safe list for automatic payments and which stores should require approval before you buy something. With automatic payments, customers will be able to go into a store, pick out something they want to buy, and pay for it without getting out your wallet or your phone. It’s almost like saying a magic word, and then all of a sudden you bought it and it’s yours.
When you walk into a Beacon-enabled store, you’ll get a notification confirming that you’ve successfully checked in. This will also send a signal to the sales associates in the store notifying them that you have arrived, allowing them to come to you with any assistance right away — another feature of PayPal’s Beacon technology.
From there, you can browse the store and pick up items that you need. When you’re done, you can let the associates know and they’ll virtually ring you up. PayPal hasn’t detailed exactly what the checkout process will be like — only saying that customers won’t have to do anything at all when paying for merchandise. The Beacon uses low-power Bluetooth, so you have to be somewhat near the device when you checkout, depending on where it’s located in the store.
Obviously, privacy and security is a big concern, but as expected, PayPal says that you shouldn’t need to worry. Beacon won’t be constantly tracking your location, since it doesn’t use GPS, and the ability to not have to check-in when you enter a store is a plus. When you decline to check-in, PayPal says that no information will be sent to the store whatsoever.
As for when we’ll see PayPal Beacon roll out into stores, the company plans to start the pilot program sometime in the fourth quarter, with a full rollout planned for early next year. PayPal is opening up the API to 100 developers who submit the best ideas. The API should open a lot of doors for the Beacon and include some impressive features. PayPal Beacon will be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.