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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

PayPal to offer new payment service via smart phones


NEW YORK -- Small businesses from coffee shops to plumbers will soon be able to accept credit cards through PayPal, using a small triangular card reader attached to a smart phone.

PayPal unveiled a mobile-payments service Thursday targeting merchants that don't have full-fledged payments systems in place. Called PayPal Here, the service will let customers pay using credit cards, PayPal accounts, or, in the United States, checks. They won't need a PayPal account to pay by credit card or check. It rivals mobile-payment services such as Square.

PayPal and its parent firm, eBay Inc., have been trying to push into offline commerce as the line between online and in-store shopping blurs. EBay recently launched a service that lets people use their PayPal accounts to pay for Home Depot merchandise, a program that likely will expand to other large retailers.

EBay Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe said PayPal is giving merchants the tools to give customers more ways to buy things. "What consumers are looking for is the ability to shop anytime, anywhere," Mr. Donahoe said in a phone interview, adding that merchants need only a smart phone to accept payments through this new service.

The latest offering, aimed at small businesses, is available for the iPhone with some merchants, and a version for Android devices will be out soon. PayPal Here doesn't have an app for Apple's iPad yet, while Square does. That said, the i- Phone version works with the iPad.

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