PayPal’s Cash For Registers Tries To Outdo Square And Groupon With Its Own Bid To Rule The Register

PayPal today announced Cash for Registers to encourage merchants to switch to PayPal-powered point-of-sale solutions. The program is part of the payment giant’s bid to be the kingpin among local merchants looking for lower-cost ways of accepting credit card payments. The announcement comes on the same day that Square launched Stand to complement its Square register product on iPad tablets and Groupon expanded and rebranded its mobile point-of-sale solution as Breadcrumb.

In exchange for local retailers handing in their “dusty old cash registers” for PayPal’s services, the eBay-owned company is offering to waive credit, debit, check and PayPal-processing fees for the remainder of 2013 as well as free advertising for participating merchants in the process. As with the offerings launched today by PayPal’s two competitors, this offer is only valid in the U.S. for now.

David Marcus, the president of PayPal who has been the driver of the company’s push into mobile commerce, noted that the program begins in June when the company will reveal more details on the exact terms of the offer, such as whether there will be a cap on how much can be processed with no fee this year. Although PayPal Here is probably best known as one of the many services out there that uses a dongle attached to a smartphone to turn it into a card reader, the company is pushing deeper into the market by offering a bigger suite of services and devices to run them — much like Square and Groupon announced today.

In PayPal’s case, this includes a merchant app for iPad, an iPad stand, a cash drawer and printer. Part of the program will also involve PayPal promoting the sale of these products, which are made by a number of companies including Erply, Leaf, NCR, ShopKeep and others.

In fact, perhaps as a swipe at rivals like Square, Marcus plays up the fact that PayPal itself is not driving most of the hardware developments itself: “At PayPal we’ve spent a long time listening to small businesses and retailers of all sizes, and we came to the conclusion that no one company can cater to the needs of all industries,” he notes in a blog post. “That’s why we have handpicked select partners that are each best-in-class in their respective categories.”

Marcus notes that there will be more PayPal Here hardware partners announced soon.

On top of the free processing fees, PayPal is also offering another lure to merchants: free marketing to the company’s 55-million-plus U.S. customer base, noting which places local to them are PayPal- and Here-ready (presumably via the PayPal app). This is not unlike the Square Directory that Square has been offering to consumers as it pushes further into Foursquare territory as the platform for local search.