To propel itself away from the perception of being old fashioned and behind the times, PayPal has been systematically updating its image, from a logo change through to a homepage refresh. Today it’s the turn of some of some of the payment platform’s actual functionality, with a new interface for its customer account services that presents users with a considerably more simplified experience.
The move, PayPal says, is part of a bigger effort to bring itself not just up to speed with, but ahead of the times. “We’re refreshing the whole company. How do we become as dynamic as the tech is?” Carey Kolaja, VP of global product solutions, said in an interview. “We don’t just want to keep up. We want to lead.”
The new account views are rolling out first in PayPal owner eBay’s two biggest markets, the U.S. and Germany, with the UK and other large markets coming online soon.
For those of you who have used PayPal, you will know that this is a part of the site that has seen little attention over the years, even as PayPal itself has expanded the kinds of services it offers and all of the advances it has made in some areas like mobile.
Indeed, the new site takes a cue from those developments, with colored blocks and button-like navigation tabs, all created with responsive design to appear the same regardless of the screen that you use to view it.
As a point of comparison, here’s what the navigation bar old site looked like:
PayPal is also updating its wallet feature. It used to be embedded in your profile but now is called out more clearly and separately — a sign of how PayPal hopes people will start to use it as well. “We are not just an online payments provider,” Kolaja emphasised.
But although you will be able to add online deals to your wallet online, for now there is still a separation where you cannot transfer deals from one medium to another — say from online to mobile. The company says that this functionality will be available soon. “We’re working on a new version of the over the next few months, where you can use the online offers on mobile, and mobile offers online,” she says.
PayPal says that in its refresh, it’s also returning to some of its basics: for example it’s re-highlighting some of its oldest features such as using PayPal for remittances. The fact that it’s emphasising transfers, to me, is an interesting development. Given how long PayPal has been around and how ubiquitous its services are, it’s somewhat of a surprise that so many new companies like WorldRemit have waded into this space. The fact that these competitors are focused on single features has worked to their advantage, and now it looks like PayPal is trying fight that back.
Having a look around the site, one slightly annoying thing is that PayPal has created a new way of encouraging users to “fill out” more of their profile information. In PayPal-land that effectively means entering more details to link payment cards and bank accounts to your PayPal account.
While that undoubtedly makes PayPal a more useful service, and might make it more likely that you will use PayPal for more of your transaction needs, it’s also slightly frustrating, as it is with Facebook and other sites, when you are regularly prompted to add more of your personal details when they don’t seem immediately relevant to how you use the service already. And given that this is payment information and sensitive financial details that we’re talking about, it will be worth seeing over time how many people follow the prompts and jump in with both feet, wallets in tow.