PayPal, one of the world’s largest online payment processors, recently revealed that it had purchased mobile developer startup card.io. The smaller company was best-known for developing a system that allowed businesses to process credit card payments using the camera on a mobile device to snap a picture of a card number.
“While working with them, we were simply blown away by the creativity and drive of their employees,” wrote Hill Ferguson, PayPal’s vice president of global product. “We can’t wait to get them involved in helping us change the future of shopping and payments.”
For its part, PayPal states it will use the card.io system to enhance its own mobile wallet capabilities, which it has been trying to expand and improve in recent months, the report said. PayPal, which itself is owned by eBay, had already incorporated some of card.io‘s technology into its existing mobile app, known as Here.
Unlike other mobile transaction platforms, card.io does not require the use of any equipment other than that which is already embedded in the average smartphone. Its competitors mostly rely on external devices that plug into the handsets in some way, usually through a device’s headphone jack.
Many companies are now pouring significant amounts of funding and attention into the development of mobile wallet platforms because experts generally predict that, within the next few years, it will be a popular payment method among consumers. Currently, adoption of these systems is slow and considered to be hampered by a combination of a lack of available smartphones and consumer hesitance to begin using a technology that they have not yet been convinced is totally secure.
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However, many experts say that mobile wallet transactions are actually more secure than paying by traditional credit card, and all it will likely take to convince consumers of this fact is the passage of time. If these systems are demonstrably secure, adoption could come quickly. It’s currently believed that mobile wallet systems could be worth as much as tens of billions of dollars annually by 2015 alone.