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PayPal See’s QR Codes as the Future of Mobile Payment and POS

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PayPalEarlier this month PayPal introduced an exciting new point of sale innovation for consumers and merchants.  This new system, “Payment Code”, is based on the relatively older technology of 2-D bar codes, in this case our favorite type: QR codes.

How PayPal says this point of sale system will work is that it allows consumers to pay by simply having the merchant scan the consumer’s personal QR code on their phone (or a four digit number that can be entered on the key pad).  In order to pay, you simply open the PayPal app, check-in at that location and your QR code opens and is ready for the merchant to scan.  As easy as that you’ve paid.

As PayPal explains, it isn’t just meant to create a smooth and easy transaction at the POS, but instead it allows for “easy access to all funding sources in one simple place (your phone), the real benefit is that it will allow consumers to automatically redeem any special offers, gift cards, merchant rewards programs or other forms of payment that might be saved in their PayPal wallet in one quick transaction.”

For the merchant, and this I think is the most important aspect of all, they do not have to replace any of their existing technology to adapt this new Payment Code.  Instead of developing a payment system that adapts the newest technology and which would require large investments to update their hardware, PayPal chose to use the older technology but in a more modern way, providing the best of both worlds for the merchant.

This is particularly interesting that PayPal decided to go with QR codes even with the number of exciting new technologies emerging to facilitate mobile commerce transactions; it seems the QR code remains the most practical tool for the job in many cases.  And perhaps the other technologies cannot catch on, or might do so much slower than anticipated, simply because of the investment required by merchants to update their hardware.  This appears to be another victory for QR codes, so I wouldn’t expect to see them disappearing anytime soon.

With PayPal adopting QR codes for payment, banks and many other institutions and retailers doing the same, it might end up that the older, less sexy, 2-D bar code technology might still win the day.