I have a love-hate relationship with PayPal. I love the fact that the service makes it possible to send money to anybody who has an email address. But, having been paid my wages via PayPal in a previous job, I hate the charges that are sometimes inflicted on the receiver or sender (I could never work out which and why – something to do with being forced to upgrade to a Pro account, apparently).
So it’s with mixed emotions that I bring news that one million Brits have used PayPal to make a payment or send money on their mobile phone as the proliferation of smartphones is accelerating the take-up of mobile payments.
Although in PayPal’s case, what we’re actually talking about is traditional online payments or sending money to an individual online, taking place via mobile. Not paying for stuff in brick ‘n’ mortar stores using a mobile phone as a digital wallet of sorts. Either way, the use of PayPal on a mobile phone certainly seems to have reached a tipping point.
The company expects to close 2010 with 30 times the mobile payments volume globally of 2008, reaching over $700m. While in Britain specifically, PayPal saw “month on month mobile transactions grow by 20 per cent in July and August this year”, with UK customers making an average of almost five mobile transactions per-month. All of which has Petra Jung, head of mobile for PayPal in the UK, pretty excited:
“People have talked about ‘mobile money’ for some time, but our figures show real traction in the amount of money PayPal’s UK customers are sending from their mobile phones… By the end of the decade, millions of us won’t carry a wallet or purse – our phones will be enough.”
Mobile phone as wallet? It’s not a new idea, but I think Jung could be onto something.