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PayPal's very smart purchase of FigCard

May 11, 2011

PayPal recently announced their purchase of FigCard, makers of an emerging mobile payments system.

The official PayPal blog post on the purchase noted:

Fig Card 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.

The background on the FigCard site is even more intriguing:

A while back, we wondered why we weren’t using our fancy iPhones to pay for things. Why do we have to take our iPhone and our wallet to the gym? Why do we have to carry supermarket cards, drug store cards and lunch loyalty cards around? Obviously the phone can do all of that. It’s not that there haven’t been other attempts at solving this problem. But clearly they haven’t worked, and there’s usually more than one reason. Our patent pending solution requires no new hardware on the phones (iPhone, Android, many Blackberry models) and free hardware for the merchants. Transactions complete faster than credit card and often faster than cash.

The best way to quickly grok the potential of their system, including how it could possibly be faster than a cash payment (think “preloading”) is to watch a demonstration from FigCard co-founder Max Metral.  Watch it below or click here if the embedded video isn’t working properly.

Click here to read the complete post on the PayPal X Developer Network including information on the key points called out in the demo video and why I think this holds promise for PayPal X Platform based development.

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