PayPal recently unveiled a new hands-free payment system known as Beacon. Working alongside compatible Point of Sale systems (Booker, Erply, Leaf, Leapset, Micros, NCR, PayPal Here, Revel, ShopKeep, TouchBistro and Vend), the small USB dongle simply plugs into a power source to facilitate wireless payments in brick-and-mortar stores.
Beacon utilizes Bluetooth LE to determine when a shopper enters the store with PayPal's app on their device. The service won't track customers' locations as they shop but it will display an image of the shopper on the PoS system. When it's time for checkout, only a verbal confirmation of payment is required to complete the transaction.
The fact that a shop would have such easy access to your money is no doubt concerning which is why PayPal has implemented multiple levels of trust into the app. This will allow customers to control which retail stores can acknowledge their presence and which stores can perform automatic payments. There is also an option to be notified of a pending payment and confirm it on-screen.
PayPal is offering the dongle and API early to 100 or so developers to get a head start on creating new experiences for Beacon. The company envisions a future where you could walk into your favorite restaurant and have your usual meal ordered the moment you step foot inside. The service will be tested throughout the fourth quarter before a full rollout takes place early next year.