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PayPal Buys Fig Card, Aims to Kill the Wallet

eBay continues major acquisitions

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PayPal Buys Fig Card, Aims to Kill the Wallet
[ Technology]

PayPal has acquired Fig Card in the latest move in the increasingly interesting mobile payments space. This comes just a week after the company acquired WHERE, for location-based deals.

eBay and PayPal will not get left behind as competition grows and industries merge.

Here’s Fig Card’s own description of itself:

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.

Peter Chu, Senior Director of PayPal Mobile said on the PayPal Blog:

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. We loved their approach to point-of-sale, particularly because it was driven by the same vision that we have at PayPal – in the future, transactions can be as smart as a computer and not as dumb as paper. We won’t need our physical wallets. We’ll be able to pay any way we want, from any device, anywhere in the world with both flexibility and privacy.

Prior to founding Fig, Max and Hasty led a series of successful companies. Max was co-founder and CTO of Firefly, where he helped define many of the governing principles of privacy on the Web that are still used today. Firefly was sold to Microsoft, and he went on to architect Microsoft Passport, one of the first single sign-on systems.

Financial terms of the acquisition are undisclosed.

The whole mobile industry is getting very competitive, with lots of overlap between services and offerings from companies that one time may not have been seen as likely competitors. I believe we will continue to see the lines get blurrier.

Google and Apple, for example, are both expected to get heavily involved in mobile payments (and wallet extinction) through NFC tech and their market leading smartphone/tablet operating systems. Payment for physical goods via Facebook Credits becoming a mainstream method of payment acceptance is not so far fetched either.

Deals companies like Groupon and check-in app companies like Foursquare also continue to see more overlap, as these industries look to be on the path to consolidation – and companies like eBay/PayPal, Google, Facebook, etc. are all in the mix here as well.

Combine all of this with emerging technologies like augmented reality, and the evolution of mobile commerce is simply a fascinating storyline to follow. It will also be interesting to see how companies like Square hold up in the long term, with the rest fo these emerging technologies. Where do you think this will all be ten years from now?

PayPal Buys Fig Card, Aims to Kill the Wallet
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  • Philip Cohen

    Who gives a Fig?

    PayPal—eBay’s Ultimate Savior?

    I have no doubt that if and when the retail banks decide they want to take the final step (and probably the increased risk and therefore the extra work involved) and offer a simpler online payments process also based upon their customers’ unique email address identifier, similar to that which PayPal offers, to the many merchants who may otherwise not want (or may not qualify for) a credit card merchant account, and the participating banks offer that service in their usual professional manner via the likes of their partners Visa/Mastercard, the fundamentally clunky, unprofessional PayPal—outside of whatever is eventually left of eBay—will undoubtedly quickly disappear into the history books—there is simply nothing surer than the sun will rise in the morning.

    PayPal at POS.

    Unless PayPal issues every PayPal user with a swipeable credit/debit card—in reality a (GE Money Bank—ugh!) Mastercard—PayPal simply cannot compete with the retail banks’ “cards” at POS. PayPal is otherwise as clumsy at POS as “card” transactions presently are relatively clumsy at online transactions. PayPal’s only advantage is its connection to the now sickly eBay and its use of the unique email address identifier which very well suits online transactions only. Regardless, why would anyone want to leave funds idle in a PayPal account so that they could use PayPal at POS? Why would any off-line merchant risk providing goods/services and then have to wait possibly weeks/months before actually being able to get their funds from the “no responsibility accepted” PayPal process? Think about it for a moment: Frightening. Then there is always the burning question, how can PayPal manage the credit/transaction risk without knowing the users the way that the retail bankers, ultimately at each end of the transaction, know their customers?

    eBay’s Chief Headless Turkey is seriously delusional if he truly thinks that PayPal, outside of the dying eBay Marketplace, will be eBay’s savior in the long term.

    Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

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