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Author Topic: PayPal Pokes Into POS ‘E-Wallet’ Market  (Read 1155 times)
xf2_org
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May 01, 2011, 02:53:45 AM
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URL: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/04/figcard/

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PayPal Pokes Into POS ‘E-Wallet’ Market

With the acquisition of Fig Card PayPal is laying down a marker that the pioneer in disruptive payment won’t be left behind in the coming e-wallet revolution.

The still arguably pre-nascent business is attracting new big tech players, like Apple and Google, while the traditional credit card players move towards creating systems that would make your smartphone your credit card.

The primary approach to building in-store systems involves near field technology (NFC), which requires technology that almost no smartphones have yet. NFC lets you put your phone near a payment device where a radio signal captures information now stored on an electronic strip that needs to be swiped.

But Fig Card uses text messages to complete transactions — something any mobile phone can already do.
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Stephen Gornick
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May 03, 2011, 05:41:06 AM
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A correction:

> n: An early version of this story said that Fig Card uses text messaging (SMS) technology. Fig Card uses WiFi functionality.

I couldn't find the details on how the wi-fi is used.  Will the mobile connect to the merchant's wi-fi, maybe ad-hoc mode or something?

Or maybe the usb dongle simply provides a wi-fi beacon so the mobile app knows which merchant(s) you are near?

I wonder what PayPal saw in this making it worth buying.

jav
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May 03, 2011, 12:51:20 PM
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Always interesting to see different POS concepts. I just wish they would explain the technical details a bit more on their website. What I gather: Some Fig Card central server mediates between the merchant and the smartphone, which - as far as I can tell - needs to be connected to the Internet at the time of the sale. I'm just not clear on how the app knows in which merchant store the phone currently is. The presentation claims that the phone is not on WiFi, so how else can it tell at what store it is?

Hive, a beautiful wallet with an app platform for Mac OS X, Android and Mobile Web. Translators wanted! iOS and OS X devs see BitcoinKit. Tweets @hivewallet. Donations appreciated at 1HLRg9C1GsfEVH555hgcjzDeas14jen2Cn.
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May 03, 2011, 03:53:10 PM
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Always interesting to see different POS concepts. I just wish they would explain the technical details a bit more on their website. What I gather: Some Fig Card central server mediates between the merchant and the smartphone, which - as far as I can tell - needs to be connected to the Internet at the time of the sale.

That requirement would be an issue for some.  Personally, I wouldn't want to have to connect to a wi-fi network each time I want to make a payment -- especially a wi-fi netowrk I don't have any reason to trust.  

I can't see any reason why they wouldn't want to use the phone's data service instead.  It is already established and plenty fast enough for the small amount of data required for a POS transaction.

I'm just not clear on how the app knows in which merchant store the phone currently is. The presentation claims that the phone is not on WiFi, so how else can it tell at what store it is?

I believe Dwolla is using the phone's GPS for knowing the list of merchants nearby:
  http://www.dwolla.org/help/what-is-dwolla-spots/

That's why I suspect the USB device for the merchant's POS is a wi-fi stick that simply operates as an SSID beacon that the mobile sees so that payment to the correct merchant is ensured.  The mobile need not ever connect to to the wi-fi, it just grabs the list of SSIDs from after doing a scan.

But they could be doing anything, who knows.

jav
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May 03, 2011, 04:25:35 PM
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I can't see any reason why they wouldn't want to use the phone's data service instead.  It is already established and plenty fast enough for the small amount of data required for a POS transaction.

That's what I had in mind when I wrote "connected to the Internet" - using the phone's data service, not necessarily using WiFi.

I'm just not clear on how the app knows in which merchant store the phone currently is. The presentation claims that the phone is not on WiFi, so how else can it tell at what store it is?

I believe Dwolla is using the phone's GPS for knowing the list of merchants nearby:
  http://www.dwolla.org/help/what-is-dwolla-spots/

That's why I suspect the USB device for the merchant's POS is a wi-fi stick that simply operates as an SSID beacon that the mobile sees so that payment to the correct merchant is ensured.  The mobile need not ever connect to to the wi-fi, it just grabs the list of SSIDs from after doing a scan.

Maybe you are right about using an SSID scan. I would find it a little misleading then though, that they claim the phone isn't using WiFi... sure, it's not connected to an access point, but doing a scan is kind of "using WiFi" as well.

All interesting ideas to consider for Bitcoin mobile clients. Does an SSID contain enough data to encode a Bitcoin address? That trick could be used then as well to identify a merchant without even requiring a lookup on some server.

Hive, a beautiful wallet with an app platform for Mac OS X, Android and Mobile Web. Translators wanted! iOS and OS X devs see BitcoinKit. Tweets @hivewallet. Donations appreciated at 1HLRg9C1GsfEVH555hgcjzDeas14jen2Cn.
gigabytecoin
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May 04, 2011, 10:22:30 PM
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Read title as peice of sh*t 'E-Wallet' Market...  Undecided
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