New PayPal lets users pay for goods on any website

PayPal is set to release a convenient way for its customers to make payments on websites that don’t accept PayPal directly.

New PayPal lets users pay for goods on any website

The new software utility, called the PayPal Secure Card, recognises when a user lands on an e-commerce checkout page and automatically helps the user fill out the payment form in a secure way that also offers stepped-up fraud protections.

Through a partnership with credit card issuer MasterCard, Secure Card generates a unique MasterCard number each time a PayPal user arrives on an e-commerce sales checkout page that does not otherwise accept its payments. “From a merchant’s perspective this looks like any other MasterCard transaction,” says Chris George, director of financial products for PayPal. “And it’s just another PayPal purchase to the customer.”

Secure Card has been tested by three million PayPal customers in the past year. The plug-in will be available to US customers from tomorrow, with an international rollout to follow.

When a PayPal customer wants to pay for something on a site that doesn’t normally accept PayPal payments, they click a downloaded PayPal button on their browsers to generate a unique, single-instance Secure Card transaction number.

By residing on the PayPal user’s computer, Secure Card can detect when users visit e-commerce sites. The software then automatically fills in their stored financial information, requiring just a few more clicks to authorise a transaction.

PayPal stores no details on the local computer for security reasons. Instead, it logs Secure Card activity in the user’s account on central servers for safety and record-keeping.

Secure Cards work on Windows computers running either Internet Explorer or Firefox. Users of Apple’s Safari browser have only partial access to the service for now, George adds.

Broadening PayPal’s appeal

The new service will increase PayPal’s appeal on e-commerce sites, according to analysts. “This is really the way to complement those websites that don’t take PayPal already,” says Red Gillen, an analyst with financial services research firm, Celent.

Usage of PayPal on the web at large is growing at nearly twice the rate that it is on eBay and the new service will help further accelerate this growth beyond the tens of thousands of merchants who already accept PayPal payments.

PayPal reported 37.5 million active accounts during the latest quarter, and 164 million total accounts worldwide.

Secure Cards is the latest measure from eBay to curtail “phishing” – spam e-mails that seek to deceive customers into clicking on bogus sites and giving up key financial details.

A study by anti-virus firm SophosLabs found that 21% of phishing purported to come from eBay or PayPal. A year ago, 85% of these bogus messages claimed to be from these two leading auction and online payment sites.

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