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Coronavirus: Pandemic spurs QR code app upgrade at PayPal

PayPal introduces QR code payment functionality to its mobile app to support social distancing

PayPal has introduced a feature on its mobile app that enables people selling goods to accept payments via QR codes.

The feature means those selling goods outside the traditional retail sector can avoid the need to use cash and cards, without buying contactless payment equipment.

Because the PayPal app is free, small sellers, including people selling secondhand goods or those with stalls on a farmers’ market, can accept payment through QR codes, just as larger retailers do.

The feature was added in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to further reduce the use of cash or the need for buyers and sellers to make physical contact with payment equipment, both of which could spread the virus.

“We know that in the current environment, buying and selling goods in a health-conscious, safe and secure way is front of mind for many people around the world,” said John Kunze, senior vice-president of branded experiences at PayPal.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has evolved, we have seen a surge in demand for digital payments to transition to include new and safe solutions for in-person environments and situations,” he added.

“Our roll-out of QR codes for buyers and sellers incorporates the safety, security and convenience of using PayPal in person and enables ongoing social distancing requirements and safety preferences for in-person commerce.”

Those selling items can create and print QR codes for their products, which customers then scan with their smartphone through the PayPal app when they make a purchase. This action will initiate an immediate payment, while limiting physical interaction between buyer and seller.

The app upgrade, which is available in 28 countries including the UK, will help the economy get moving again as lockdowns are slowly loosened. It also demonstrates how quickly businesses can make changes by adopting financial technology (fintech) and is a sign of how the industry will evolve after the pandemic.

Fintech platforms are highly adaptable to changing habits and trends, which are inevitable post-Covid-19. According to recent research from ATM network provider Link UK, carried out by YouGov, 72% of people said the pandemic would affect their future use of cash.

This will spur innovation in the fintech sector as businesses look at new ways to enable consumers to pay for goods and services.

Fintech entrepreneur Matthias Kroener, who set up and later sold Fidor, one of the earliest digital challenger banks, recent told Computer weekly that the coronavirus could “accelerate the arrival of the next iteration of the fintech industry”.

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