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consumer digital wallet apps

pure digital wallet apps: single app to pay in many ways including paying your friends. Digital wallets from Google, Square, PaylPal and others look to turn 'click and pay' and simplify the way you pay.

Quick look; square wallet | paypal wallet | google wallet



digital wallet online shopping mobile apps

Square: overview

square product log from squareupCreated by Twitter's Jack Dorsey, fast-growing digital wallet Square (device called square up) is revolutionizing money transactions much like Twitter changes daily communication. With many competitors, Square focused its growth on small business and small vendors using a card-reader on their mobile or tablet. Simple, secure way to take credit/debit payments, and consumers can use the app for a simple, quick way to pay. Think of Square as the 'Apple' of mobile payments, with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. Square is quickly gaining popularity with small business, vendors, shop owners, but for consumers, you can choose to use their app, or will simply swipe your card when asked. If you like to walk into Starbucks with your mobile and just 'say your name' to pay, you'll love square. If that makes you cringe (like me), you'll simply notice their logo when you swipe your credit or debit card at the local florist shop.

more about square

Social aspects are integrated into the functionality the younger folks will find both familiar and useful. Engaging with friends such as sending/receiving gift cards by app, having the clerk 'know who you are' when you walk in the store makes payment simply by saying your own name. Seems like a friendly and quick way to purchase, rather than pulling out your card and loyalty card, punching up your pin.. Quick and easy, which is both good and bad. For others, the social aspect will either be unimportant or for many intrusive and raise security concerns. Not everyone wants the clerk to great you by name, or see your photo. Hard not to see some potential risk in the process. Luckily for Square, the technical aspects of the mobile phone (NFC compatibility) make their technology useful on today's most popular smartphones. .

By turning on location and the app's tabs, Square knows where you are, and let you see available vendors nearby. Also, you can purchase, send, and receive gift cards with a few clicks. Simple, easy. Forgot your friend's birthday and about to meet her for a coffee? A couple of clicks and you've got the gift card to send her if you're both on Square. What husband doesn't love that feature!

Currently available on iPhone 4 and above, Android 2.2 and up, as well as iPad. Free to consumers, and simple fee structure to vendors may spur a quick availability unlike traditional payment systems with large initial vendor costs. Don't be surprised to see these pop up at many vendors soon. update: on 5-22-13 added new vendor cost options: flat monthly fee ($275, 0%/transaction) while retaining 2.75% per swipe (transaction) fee.

what we like?

If you're social and prefer quick convenience, you'll like the 'say your name' feature and everyone will like how quickly transactions are processed. Quicker lines are a huge perk and Square is responsible for the transaction itself, using strong encryption standards to prevent fraud. The simplicity of usage will make it very easy for most people to use it intuitively. Much like Apple products, built to be intuitive and simple, and that's for consumers and the vendor. With low vendor fees and easy usage, we expect local vendors to increase rapidly.


Also, the new monthly flat price option ($275) gives small vendors another cost option to consider.For high volume vendors, we suggest you analyze your recent and expected transactions to choose wisely.

summary points

quick summary chart: Square digital wallet

Type pros cons
  • small business will love the simple structure, vendors likely to grow
  • app helps you find vendors near you
  • Starbucks partnership drives availability
  • availability remains unknown,except Starbucks
  • limited at first, quicker traction in cities


  • data encrypted using level 1 PCI Data Security Standards
  • your data not sold to 3rd party vendors
  • clerk sees your face/name to confirm you, creepy or cool? (you decide)
  • 'say your name to pay' adds some risk, and great risk in crowded vendor and common names (ex John or Sue)
  • perception of risk exists, even if untrue
ease of use
  • expected to be the 'Apple' of e-commerce, very easy to use
  • will sacrifice features for simplicity, which many users will love
  • likely will sacrifice features for simplicity
  • 'say your name' checkout easy, but photo recognition has a creepy factor
key points
  • simple to use
  • social integration with send/receive gift cards
  • full digital wallet, embraces loyalty cards, gift cards, major credit/debit cards
  • availability may be spotty, since other players have stronger existing vendor presence
  • 2 cost options for small vendors: monthly fee ($275, 0% transaction) and per swipe 2.75% along with free reader.



Square comes from the guy who co-created Twitter, and investing from Starbucks.. With Twitter, simplicity is key and social, square's digital wallet app takes a similar approach to payment systems. Everyone expects great things, Dorsey is considered by some as a modern Edison, so square has the buzz, funding, and talent to compete in the crowded digital wallet payment market.

Want to get wonky? Square is a good place to be! Square claims to focus on innovative analytics (deep dive into data) and complex modeling to detect fraud more quickly. Companies do this type of fraud detection today, that's nothing new, and consumers need them to do it well. Fraud detection and prevention lowers costs for all and of course saves much worry and aggravation. Bottom line is security comes first. So why is Square different? Square expects to be able to detect in real-time and also to improve that capability as they grow (more data = more info). The more complicated fraud gets, the more you need innovation in fraud detection. Analytic can be a huge asset. The more consumers who use square, the better their predictions, according to Square. Makes sense.

For consumers, you need to know fraud costs vendors money, and that costs everyone. Since 'say your name' inherently increases security (in our eyes), we like that Square's fraud detecting analytics can reduce or negate these concerns.

what you need to know

You create your account, and add photo and first name as well as the payment (credit card, etc) source charging from square transactions. You can earn rewards, give and receive gift cards, and as long as you have your phone on you, just say your name to purchase at checkout. Obviously, doesn't work on all smarphones, so you have to check out their list or download the app. Got the latest iPhone or android O/S mobile? You should be all set. Is your phone a year or more older? Well, check the list first.

Here's some more. We like the idea that your gift cards are on your mobile phone, who doesn't get the store, realize they could have used their card? We do worry about the fraud of someone 'pretending' to be you, but also love how quickly you can pay. We see the future in many of these digital wallet technologies, can see a day when signing for a credit card becomes like pulling out a checkbook. Rare, and a little annoying.

PayPal here: overview

paypal here product logoFrom online retail innovators at eBay comes mobile payment solution 0ayPal Here, which seeks to expand PayPal's online payment dominance into the pay anywhere, anytime market. Currently, 0ayPal historically is a dominant payment in the online world, beginning of course with eBay transactions. As a result, PayPal has built strong consumer confidence with online buyers and merchants, and clearly merchants who operate in both physical locations and online will switch or offer 0ayPal Since online consumers trust the 0ayPal brand that trust may pay off (pun intended).

While many merchants are trying to become the 'winners' in the new digital wallet world, 0ayPal expects their strong online reputation, low fees, and status as a non-competitor to help gain traction. In their March 2013 Investor call, eBay execs noted that unlike traditional payment merchants like Visa, eBay/Pay Pal is not and won't be a competitor. They are purely a transaction and marketplace, never holding physical inventory.

0ayPal has an interesting task, and only time will tell availability, though expect reward programs to convince users to switch. Bottom line is you'll start seeing the 0ayPal logo in stores, and small vendors will have mobile/tablet readers to swipe and pay as well. Given their success in the online space and deals with retailers like Home Depot and JC Penney, we'll expect 2013 will be a bold year for 0ayPal Here.


what we like?

With expansion to Home Depot and JCPenney, we assume a strong ad campaign will help build business. 0ayPal has a strong online presence, and mixes innovation with stability well. Online shopping requires strong fraud protection and encryption, and 0ayPal has shown strong leadership and the ability to ensure smooth transactions for vendors and consumers. Track record and good stewardship, and vendors will like the coemptive transaction fees.

what you need to know

quick summary chart: Paypal digital wallet

Type pros cons
  • strong online presence
  • Home Depot, JC Penney, Toys R Us agreements in place
  • expecting strong expansion 2013
  • dominant players may try to drive newer players from field


  • paypal has proven strong security, customer problem resolution
  • strong security brand via eBay and paypal
  • TBD
ease of use
  • expect ease given online paypal experience
key point
  • great for existing paypal users
  • won't be available everywhere yet
  • ebay's paypal clearly making big push into physical stores, but big players have power and startups more nimble


key features

0ayPal is familiar to anyone who has sold or purchase on eBay, and is considered de-facto payment for online transactions for many small online vendors. A strong track record of security, problem resolution, customer service and a good brand reputation follows. eBay has top-notch marketing resources and ad campaigns, we expect 0ayPal Here logo to have some innovative ad campaigns to spread the word, and also reward programs to encourage usage. Still, MasterCard and Visa dominate the physical payment transaction world,while startup like Square have the 'buzz' cool factor and partnership in Starbucks. Like most digital wallet players, 2013 will be a huge year for 0ayPal, and with partnerships with Home Depot and JCPenney, consumers might be enticing. Will it be profitable to PaylPal and worth the resources? That's one thing that we just don't know yet. PaylPal will offer vendors a reduced fee, so PaylPal will likely add more partnerships in 2013.

what do you need to know?

0ayPal will work with NFC compatible phones, and will work as an app on your mobile or tablet, will work on most modern smartphones since NFC is now the standard on mobile phones.

what's on the horizon

For consumers, you'll see more options and new logos appearing on registers in stores. Behind the scenes, lots of fee haggling and negotiations by corporations, payment system providers, and everyone will try to figure it out. Much is up in the air, but consumers will have options.




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