PayPal for that Coffee?

25 Jun PayPal for that Coffee?

Telegraphe Cafe, a tiny but tony coffee spot on 18th Street in Manhattan may not look like the cutting edge of electronic commerce.  It’s just a hole in the wall along a busy street, just down the way from a facility used for meetings, concerts, and events.  But Telegraphe Cafe is sending a clear message to its customers by embracing electronic commerce that skips over the need for a credit card, a magnetic swipe machine, and related charges to banks.  Instead, eBay’s PayPal division (which may act like a bank, but isn’t) is collecting fees from caffeine-starved customers who wish to pay with the swipe of an App.

Now a PayPal App can buy coffee -- and more!

Now a PayPal App can buy coffee — and more!

Just as the Internet disrupted travel agencies, bookstores, and the U.S. Post Office, the possibilities of “pay by swipe” (of the finger, not the credit card) become clear when paying with an App — in this case PayPal.

I already had a PayPal app on my phone.  All I had to do was sign in, hit the “local” button on the App, make sure I had a photo of myself loaded into the App (a crude but effective tool to reduce fraud), and then the retailer was able to “see” my phone and charge me $2.35 for a cup of coffee.  It was easy, painless, and even generated a receipt at my request.

Other electronic payment methods have yet to catch on.  Google has invested a mint in Google Wallet, only to be ignored by most stores and most consumers.  Google Wallet was designed as a “touch it and go” method — but it requires the phone to have Near Field Communication chips inside.  Many Android phones have that.  iPhones do not.  Hence, the shortage of interest by a wide swatch of consumers (and stores.)

But an App can be agnostic.  There are still some steps one has to take to use PayPal to buy stuff, but it’s a pleasant upgrade from swiping cards and signing your signature.

And I suspect it’s the “swipe of things to come!”

So this morning I got a message from Telegraphe Cafe.  It was the future!