PayPal Adds Heat to the Mobile Payments Fire

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 29 Apr, 2011

PayPal parent company eBay is on a bit of a tear in the acquisitions department, and the latest move adds heat to an already sizzling mobile payments industry.


PayPal has acquired Boston-based mobile payments startup FigCard for an undisclosed amount, merely a week after eBay purchased WHERE to bolster its positions in local, social and mobile commerce.


In the announcement on PayPal's blog, senior director of mobile Peter Chu described FigCard as having "developed an extremely easy way for merchants to accept mobile payments in stores by using a simple and very low cost USB device that plugs into the cash register or point-of-sale terminal. All the consumer needs is the Fig app on his or her smart phone. We loved their approach to point-of-sale, particularly because it was driven by the same vision that we have at PayPal - in the future, transactions can be as smart as a computer and not as dumb as paper. We won't need our physical wallets. We'll be able to pay any way we want, from any device, anywhere in the world with both flexibility and privacy."


The mobile payments space is hotter than ever as major corporations such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Google, Apple and others compete to find the best solutions for turning our smartphones into wallets, and startup software and technology companies such as FigCard and Payfone are either being acquired or receiving funding as in the case of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey's Square with Visa.


Add location-based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla into the mix, and daily deals leaders such as Groupon and LivingSocial -- and now also Facebook and Google -- and mobile commerce is about as exciting and explosive as any other category on the Web.