We’ve been hearing recently about PayPal’s in-store payments platform for large retailers (which will soon be rolled out to small businesses as well). But we haven’t seen PayPal do much in the past few months with its plans for its digital wallet on the consumer side. We know PayPal has a major vision for how payments will be made in the future, but today, the company is giving us a glimpse of exactly what new features will be added to the platform in the coming year.
As PayPal’s director of communications Anuj Nayar tells us in an interview, “PayPal is changing, and this is the first major revamp of the core PayPal product. We’re known as an online payments brand but this is all part of PayPal becoming an actual wallet.”
Sam Shrauger, Vice President of Global Product and Experience for PayPal, says that the “new PayPal” will “let consumers do things with their money that have never been possible before.” One of these features is the ability to have flexibility with how you want to pay for an item in a store. So let’s say you purchase a computer from a store or online with your Starwood credit card but realize that you actually have a Best Buy credit that you wanted to use.
With the new digital wallet, you can buy something in a store, take it home and decide later how you want to pay for it. PayPal will offer a five to seven-day grace period for consumers to change their minds. So you can switch from one funding source to another, decide to pay over time in installments and even apply different sources of value (gift cards, airline miles, loyalty points, etc.) to a payment.
As we heard from PayPal over the holidays, data is going to be a huge part of the payments company’s product strategy over time. The new version of PayPal will allow you to create personal lists of items you want. Via PayPal, you can search for items, compare prices and create lists of things you want to buy for a variety of situations. PayPal will then find deals and coupons for these items on your list whether you are in the store or online.
Additionally, you’ll be able to create spending rules that tie specific cards and payment instruments to specific merchants. So you can create specific “set asides” like travel funds and set rules by purchase amount. For example, you can earmark a bank account for all grocery store purchases, and a specific credit card for entertainment and travel directly from PayPal. All you’ll need to do is pay via PayPal, and the platform will automatically recognize whether a specific payment should be drawn from a credit card or bank account.
As Shrauger writes in a post announcing these new features, “PayPal is not about replacing a card swipe with a phone tap at point of sale. We are reimagining money to free it in its digital form so that it can work better for everyone. These features and examples are only the beginning: moving forward, we’re only limited by our ability to imagine what’s possible.”
Nayar explains that there will be “an avalanche” of product announcements that will bring these features to life in the coming year, starting in late May. “This will be your new PayPal account,” he says.
This new wallet will also be able to be used with the new in-store experience at retailers (and perhaps at small businesses as well). PayPal clearly wants to become the digital wallet provider for consumers, but the company already has a number of competitors vying for this spot. Google seems to also have major ambitions to dominate in this space with Google Wallet. We’re seeing other competitors enter the space, especially in mobile. And we still don’t what Apple’s intentions are when it comes to the wallet.
But there are a few things in PayPal’s favor. First, the company already has an established user base of over 100 million active users. Second, PayPal is device-agnostic and can be layered over the web, mobile, and other platforms. The company hasn’t revealed any new mobile plans today, but that’s also sure to be a significant component of the digital wallet’s technology.