PayPal, the infamously ubiquitous king of the online payments world, is moving into the world of real touchy-feely transactions in the UK, launching a chip-and-pin device which will enable retailers to nab money from PayPal accounts, as well as debit and credit cards.
The service, dubbed PayPal Here, has been available in the US and Australia for a while now, but our cousins from the colonies don't have the security hang-up of the chip-and-pin system that we use in the UK -- that's what's been delaying the UK launch, apparently. The system consists of a card reader (it pretty much looks like the sort of small chip-and-pin terminal you get in the shops), and an app running on an Android or iOS device, which the terminal Bluetooths to.
The system will let businesses take payments from PayPal accounts, Visa cards and MasterCards. In return, PayPal skims a little bit under three per cent off the top. It's the same business model that PayPal uses in the US, and it's mainly aimed at small/very mobile businesses, who normally have to use old-fashioned cash to sell their wares.
The rollout is starting in the UK right now with "select partners", and will see a more general launch in time for the summer ice-cream season. Though it's good news that cash is one step closer to dying (whoever actually likes collecting coins, anyway?), I'm still slightly wary of the increasingly dominant position PayPal occupies in the payment space, given their track record of godawful customer service. [BBC]