Digital payment pioneer PayPal has announced its acquisition of a company that specializes in credit card photo capture technology – a move they say will “create new experiences to make it even easier for consumers and merchants to use the PayPal digital wallet,” according to a blog post by Hill Ferguson, PayPal’s vice president of global product.
Employees of card.io will move from their home base in San Francisco to the PayPal offices in San Jose, while the work they are doing currently can continue to be used in apps by other developers.
That technology involves taking a picture of a credit card with the camera on a smartphone in order to process payment information. Imagine snapping a photo of a credit card instead of swiping it through a card reader, tapping it against a payment console, or scanning a chip – that’s the sort of technology that card.io developers work on and PayPal’s Ferguson says that the team’s “creativity and drive” blew him away when he met them.
The card.io team is only six people big – six people, and one dog, to be exact – and Ferguson says that working at PayPal will give them “the opportunity to work on projects that will accelerate innovation at a scale that’s just not possible at a startup.”
Roman Shteyn, card expert and founder at Credit-Land.com, sees this as a talent buy rather than a technology acquisition. “Card.io technology creates an extra step that most industry piers feel is unnecessary, when it comes processing credit cards. However, the talent behind developing this technology is excellent.” – Roman says – “This is obviously the case of some very talented people being recognized for their efforts, but, unfortunately, not their final product. I can hardly see PayPal incorporating this extra step; especially that it is in competition with PayPal existing card reader.”
Digital Wallets Taking Over
PayPal is only one of many companies working to develop the best digital wallet – Google Wallet and Isis are also hot on the trail of the ultimate digital wallet solution. Isis has deals with MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express, while Google Wallet so far works only with PayPass MasterCards issued by Citi. Even so, both Google Wallet and Isis have been in the lead on the digital wallet frontier, with PayPal struggling to keep up.
Stripes, Swipes, Chips, and Pics
Just as the US is beginning to embrace new secure EMV-chip technology for its credit cards – something that Europe, Asia, Canada, and most of the rest of the world has already done – it seems that credit card technology may be advancing so quickly that even the chip may be old news soon. As more mobile payment methods emerge, magnetic stripes and EMV chips may become moot. Contactless payments, wireless payments, and no more swiping, tapping or scanning could be the future of credit cards.
Anyone Can Take a Credit Card
It’s already becoming easier for anyone to take a credit card, thanks to payment solutions like Square and PayPal’s Here, which attach to smartphones and read credit cards. If anyone can accept a credit card payment just by snapping a picture of the card with their phone and using an app, then everyone from kids running a lemonade stand to your brother who is always trying to get you to invest in his wacky business idea will be able to say, “will that be cash or credit?”