Continuing its mission to re-invent the high street shopping experience, PayPal has unveiled Beacon, a Bluetooth plug-in for merchants that automatically checks in consumers for hands-free cashless payments at the point-of-sale.
Beacon uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to enable a transaction to take place without having to open up an app, without GPS being turned on, and even without a phone signal for establishments with thick concrete walls.
Consumers will have full control of stores they will want to check in to, those they will want to get prompted to confirm payment for, and stores they will want to enable a complete hands-free experience for, says PayPal. In the latter case, simply walking in a store will trigger a vibration or sound to confirm a successful check in and the user's photo will then appear on the screen of the point-of-sale system so shoppers can be greeted by name.
"Paying only requires a verbal confirmation," says PayPal. "No wallet. No card. Nothing to do. Not even touching your phone."
PayPal is inviting third party developers to use its wallet API and Beacon specs to conjure new applications for the technology and says that it expects to conduct pilot trials later this year before a full roll-out in 2014.