With PayPal Here, the e-commerce payments expert is doubling down on its effort to reach the physical point of interaction. First, it’s been going after the largest merchants, including Home Depot, where it is now accepted at nearly all locations. With PayPal Here, the company’s reaching out to millions of very small merchants, the domain of Square. PayPal has to move fast to catch the Square moving target.
Square has just released updates to the consumer side of its software system. It has renamed the inelegantly monikered app Card Case to the far more direct Pay with Square. The Pay with Square app is a GPS-powered merchant locator and payment method. A consumer can walk into one of the 75,000 merchants who have signed up for the service (out of one million merchants accepting Square payments) and not even pull out her wallet. Using geofencing, a technique that tells Square that both the merchant and the consumer with the Pay with Square app are in the same location, the consumer can walk up, order, say her name and be done. The Square Register app on the merchant’s iPad displays the consumer’s face and the payment gets authorized. It’s elegant. If you can find a local Square merchant in the directory (15 miles is the closest one for me).
It’s that elegance and the breadth of Square’s software offering that is the challenge for PayPal. Just taking a payment is no longer remotely adequate. Square’s all about expanding its software services to the merchant and with Register it is delivering a lot of value. That takes time to create and PayPal is two years late to this particular party.