PayPal Offers PayPal-less Payments

PayPal Secure Card

If you’re like me you might get various payments into PayPal and you like the convenience of turning around and using this money to buy something online. But, what if the merchant in question doesn’t take PayPal? Well, you could use your PayPal Debit card, if you have one, or you could transfer money around to make a payment on another credit card. Now PayPal is offering another way to do this, the PayPal Secure Card built into a browser plugin.

Browser Plugin

PayPal has had virtual secure cards through MasterCard for about 18 months. This system allowed you to get a temporary card number for a one time purchase. The new system uses a browser plugin to generate this number right on the merchant’s page without you having to hop back and forth between different sites in different browser windows or tabs.

Security Concerns

Of course, security is a concern for this type of thing. The plugin doesn’t store credit card information locally on the PC and it requires a login to PayPal to generate a card number. It has built-in phishing detection as well. In theory, this plugin should make certain kinds of credit card fraud and theft much more difficult.

Should demographic collection be a concern? It’s possible. The plugin will detect when you’ve connected to an e-commerce site. It’s not clear at this point if it will “phone home” with this information. It’s easy to see how this information would be quite useful to online merchants. I’d hope PayPal would be open about this aspect of it.

US and Windows Only For Now

Yes, as is typically the case, this service is being rolled out for US users first with international customers coming on board later by country.

Support for the browser plugin is only for Windows systems running Internet Explorer or Firefox. Mac users only get partial support in Safari. I didn’t see any info about Linux usage in the press releases.

Final Thoughts

This plugin does offer some promise of making online transactions more secure. I do have some concerns over potential demographic marketing collection not related to actual purchases and the reliability of PayPal’s customer service which doesn’t have a particularly stellar record. However, I like the security provided by temporary credit card numbers. I’ll probably give it a try at some point.

What do you think? Would you use it? Why or why not?

(Please don’t link to the PayPalSucks site in your comments. It’s simply a clever affiliate marketing site for a competing credit card processor.)


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Comment by Ivy
2007-11-19 13:01:33

I’ll be hesitant about using it for a few reasons:

1. If I weren’t using a paypal account, why would I want to use a non-paypal account with a paypal card? I mean if there were weaknesses in the current paypal payment method, why not fix it instead of creating another product to replace it? It might just be as buggy…

2. I buy things from different computers. I don’t fancy having to install the plugin every time I’m on a different computer

3. It will be a pain having to generate AND remember the card code every time I make a transaction for tracking

4. I’m not located in the US and am using an iMac machine.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-19 13:38:40

Hi Ivy,

On your points…

1. The idea is to allow you to make a payment directly from your PayPal account even though the merchant didn’t directly accept PayPal but did accept credit cards. I would guess that you could do this even if you didn’t have a credit card but only a PayPal account.

2. I think it’s intended for use from a personal, home based, system, not a shared system or a work system, although I’ll bet people will use it that way.

3. That’s the point of this new system. Previously they would generate the temporary card number and you would have to cut-and-paste it or otherwise copy it over and keep up with it. Now the plugin and internal tracking at PayPal does all that for you.

4. That would kill it for you, wouldn’t it.

Comment by ivy
2007-11-20 00:50:30

lol, yes, there is no chance of me trying out the system even if wanted to. I am a little miffed recently following the moves made by ad networks like WidgetBucks to exclude monetization for Asian countries. And now Paypal services that include North America and Canada only. And this at a time when blogs like ours are spouting all over the world wide web. Its amazing that even technology and traditional businesses can’t keep up with the blogging phenomena isn’t it? ;)

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by steve warshaw
2007-11-19 20:18:22

I think what Paypal is doing here is fabulous, and I would definitely use this system.

As a merchant who uses Paypal in many ways, I always have a balance in my paypal account. Having this plug-in would mean that I could shop online and not have to grab my credit card (or memorize the number) every time I want to make a purchase.

As far as security, I’m rather certain that the entire transaction is completely safe as all of the data transfers would be encrypted.

The other thing that makes this a win for Paypal is that they actually pay interest on your account. So now that you can use paypal in an easy way with any online vendor who accepts credit cards, there is no reason not to maintain a balance.


Comment by jfc
2007-11-19 21:07:55

Hi Steve,

I like how they pay interest on the balance too. I used the debit card also which was handy when I was buying merchandise for resale. Of course, I’ve pretty much stopped selling online now so I only have a small balance these days.

2007-12-12 00:46:43

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