PayPal Throws a Triangle into the Mobile Payment Wars

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PayPal pulled back the curtain on their new mobile payments device on Thursday afternoon, surely the product of much sweat and tears from some design team. And goshdarnit: Everybody's making fun of it. "The new hardware, dubbed PayPal Here, is a triangle-shaped dongle that attaches to the smartphone through the microphone jack and reads credit cards," explains Wired's Mike Isaac. "If you’re familiar with Square’s similar device for mobile phones and tablets, PayPal Here essentially performs the same function, and attaches to the device in the same way." The magazine followed up on Twitter: "PayPal takes on Jack Dorsey's Square with a triangle. God, I love geometry wars." This is a mild joke. Others were a little more caustic with their humor.

We doubt the folks at Square are laughing. PayPal, an eBay company, is arguably the most seasoned veteran in the mobile payments business. As we reported a year ago when Google launched its competing service, Wallet, the mobile payment wars are only going to get more fierce as technology improves. Until Thursday, Square was really the only army in town, with their headphone jack credit card reader idea -- they must be upset that a heavy hitter like PayPal has co-opted the general idea into a different shape, giving them the ability to process millions of dollars worth of mobile payments thanks to some 100 million users via their parent company. That said, Square is already processing $4 billion worth of transactions, so PayPal has some catching up to do. May the best shape win.

This is how PayPal Here works:

And this is how Square works:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.