PayPal is expanding its presence in the mobile payment fracas by announcing new retail partners that will accept PayPal at their checkout registers. The aim is to get to "ubiquity," which seems to show that PayPal understands the core problem of mobile payments: fragmentation. Consumers don't want to have to worry about whether their mobile wallet will work at the store they're visiting, and PayPal is at least talking like it's going to get there.
PayPal started by announcing partnerships with four point-of-sale companies to offer easier payments for "mid-market" retail stores: Erply, Vend, ShopKeepPOS, and Leapset. Although these solutions are not universal for these mid-sized businesses, they do give the company several entry points into that market, which PayPal says represents up to 50,000 retailers.
PayPal also offered an update on larger businesses. Although PayPal has had plenty of success in the online world, it's still pushing to form partnerships for offline payments. PayPal announced agreements with VeriPhone, Equinox, and Ingenico, giving the company access to 40 million terminals — "a big step in getting to ubiquity," says Don Kingsborough, VP retail and prepaid for PayPal. Although these point-of-sale partnerships aren't as flashy as the big-name partnerships, they are more important for PayPal's goal: they make it more likely that a mobile wallet will just work at more retail stores.
PayPal brought out some of the partners that it is has been working with recently. One is Home Depot, where PayPal has already been trialing payments for some time. Home Depot's VP of Financial Services, Dwaine Kimmet, said that it likes working with PayPal because it offers multiple solutions (like actual physical credit cards) right away while we wait for a standard in NFC payments. PayPal also namechecked fifteen retailers as a "start" on its path to expanding retail partnerships, including Office Depot, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, JC Penney, and Guitar Center. PayPal also announced a partnership with Jamba Juice, who before now worked with Google Wallet and also announced that it would be compatible with the upcoming ISIS mobile wallet. These larger retails will be offered "more custom solutions," says Marcus, "It’s no longer about location location location, for large retailers it’s about access to their customers."
Although the focus of today's event was larger retailers, Marcus also gave an update on PayPal here, saying that 300,000 small business have registered to use the mobile payment dongle and service. PayPal president David Marcus calls the integration of online, offline, and mobile the "new normal of retail," which points to the company's strategy combining PayPal Here for small business, POS integration with mid-market companies, and partnerships with large merchants. Kingsborough is aiming high: "We believe that it's our destiny […] that you’ll be able to pay with PayPal anywhere." Whether PayPal can actually reach that goal in the face of other entrenched and powerful interests in the mobile payment space remains to be seen.