Payment providers like PayPal and Visa offer invisible value to consumers, not so much in the sense that they avoid our attention but because we use them so frequently we barely notice them anymore.
After all, they’re just the bridge between the goods we want and having them materialize at our front doors. Most of us don’t need to know any more about the workings of a payment provider than that.
Of course, it can pay to take notice of what your preferred payment solution is up to, simply because an expansion or upgrade to its normal service can make our own lives a little bit easier. This is especially true of developing markets, which have historically found themselves behind the barrier of poor currency support and limits on just how and where they can spend their money.
PayPal has made two rather dramatic changes to its platform in recent months. In September 2021, the company released what it called a “super app”, which supplements its regular capabilities with support for cryptocurrency, shopping, and even savings. The objective of this new piece of software is to make PayPal more of a complete payment provider, rather than a bookend in the customer journey.
Just a month later, PayPal announced that it would enable payments at 30,000ft, onboard commercial aircraft. While this might sound a little redundant, given that all the money required for a flight is paid before boarding, PayPal’s new QR code-based service is aimed at the much smaller market of in-flight food and drink. For now, though, it only works on American airline United.
The latter move might be seen as pre-emptive, as PayPal has been slow to introduce itself to certain markets in the past. It somehow managed to miss the mobile payments boat, which is now dominated by Google, Apple, and Samsung, while Neteller and Skrill managed to gain a foothold in the casino niche ahead of PayPal, too.
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However, the above is all part of a growth plan unveiled at the beginning of the year, which had a number of lofty goals, including expansion into the Chinese payments market and more support for cryptocurrencies. Once again, PayPal is way behind the curve for the adoption of the latter type of currency. Bitcoin, for instance, has already been through several boom and bust periods and has already been dropped by Amazon, among other major retailers.
For travelers and businesses, PayPal’s expanded functionality can only be good news – and the fact that the platform should meet its 2021 growth targets is an obvious boon for anybody involved financially with the company.
For such a household name to continually fall behind developments in the payments space is a little concerning, though. The lead that the big three mobile manufacturers have over PayPal in some areas may now be unassailable, for example.