This is the third Chip and PIN device that I’ve reviewed, and probably the one that I’ve most looked forward to. Previous devices have been good, however they’ve never had an air of a big corporate entity behind them to drive the service into new areas. Enter PayPal, an arguably late entry to the Bluetooth Chip and PIN device market. PayPal Here was announced in the UK shortly after iZettle pre-orders had begun, however no pre-order information was available until after the iZettle devices had already started shipping.
PayPal is a very recognised and trusted company with a clear household brand status, where as iZettle and Intuit have the disadvantage of being rather obscure (Intuit may be familiar to those in the Finance world who use Quickbooks). This is something to consider when selecting between the various companies out there who are now offering these portable Chip & PIN devices. Customers may not trust the little black plastic box with some obscure company name printed on it, thinking it might be some kind of scam. They will far more likely trust a device sporting the PayPal Logo and colour scheme
Another advantage PayPal have is that the Here device is another product in their already massive catalogue. Many companies offer payment options through PayPal through their online store, and being able to offer Chip & PIN payments through the same platform is a major boon to companies. This is partly why Paypal are on to a winner with this product, as most business’s that already use PayPal will more likely stick with the single payment provider than split their payment solutions between different suppliers.
In the Box
The PayPal Here Device arrives in a little clear plastic box containing the device itself, a Getting Started Guide, a USB cable for charging and two PayPal Here Stickers.
The PayPal Here Device
Like Intuit Pay / iZettle, PayPal Here’s device is manufactured by Miura Systems, and as such shares a number of similar characteristics with its brothers and sisters. The keypad is identical to those on the other devices, and feels / responds exactly the same. There is a 10-digit keypad with a cancel, back and confirm key on the bottom. There is one extra button in the form of a ‘Sync’ key. This is used to begin Bluetooth pairing between the reader and the phone / tablet – a function that is hidden in the iZettle / Intuit Pay devices as a long-press of the Back key.
The PayPal Here unit differs from the competition in one noticeable way – it has no display on the device. The Intuit Pay device uses a Green / Grey LCD screen to display information to the customer, while the iZettle device uses an OLED display. The PayPal Here makes do with LED indicators to relay information to the customer. This can be seen as either a positive step as it saves battery on the device (no display to power, meaning you’re able to transact more sales in a single charge) or as a negative step as the customer may feel a little disconnected from the transaction, not having the screen on the device to confirm the amount being paid. This difference could put people off going with PayPal Here over a competitor’s service / device.
From the perspective of build quality, the PayPal Here Device is head and shoulders above both the Intuit Pay and iZettle devices – for a start, the back of the PayPal Here is a blue metal (probably aluminium), which gives a lovely professional feel in the hand. The rest of the device is either Blue or White plastic, however even the plastic used in this device feels better than other devices. The PayPal Here certainly is the best built Miura Systems reader I’ve handled so far.
PayPal Here – The App
Like the readers from other services, the PayPal Here device will do nothing unless it is paired to a Smartphone or Tablet running the companion App. As you would expect from PayPal, the Here app is very well designed and runs very smoothly.
When you first launch the App you are greeted by the Welcome Screen which asks you to Sign In or Create an Account. To use PayPal Here you will require a PayPal Business account. This is easy to set up and can be done through the PayPal website.
It is worth mentioning that when you subsequently open PayPal Here, it will store your username but not your password, forcing you to enter it every time. This could potentially increase the time it takes to process a transaction. I would like to see a PIN lock that would allow you to complete transactions, but require a password for further access into the account. It is also worth mentioning that PayPal is not alone in this ‘feature’. It has been a gripe of mine for the iZettle and Intuit Pay solutions as well.
Like the other top Chip & PIN solutions, PayPal Here offers a product catalogue which allows you to enter frequently purchased items into a database, letting you quick-add them to the cart before checkout. This has the advantage of speeding up a customer’s checkout process.
I feel the checkout falls down in two major areas. Firstly is the lack of ability to have variants of products – this is incredibly useful if you’re selling products that might all have the same description and picture, but just have a different detail. The example I used in the iZettle review was a Canvas, where it might come in different sizes at different prices, but all have the same generic photo and description assigned to them.
Taking this further, I would like to see a Catalogue system that allows for certain logic to be used. A product could have a number of sub-products (or variants), but also have a number of options. To extend the Canvas example from above, a canvas might be printed in Black and White, or Colour. It might have a full bleed print or a white boarder print option. Additionally a product could have a number of extra optional extras that could be added to a product order, such as hanging options, a stand, etc. Finally, if it was a print-to-order canvas, you would have to ship it to the customer (e.g: next day, standard 3 day, customer collection, etc), so a Shipping and Handling option could be included too. These rates could be set globally and called by individual product entries.
Unfortunately this method of creating a product catalogue is rarely seen outside of a full Point-of-Sale / Checkout system as it requires a lot of rules and options to be available to the customer. This is something that PayPal could conceivably implement and use in conjunction with other products & Services that they offer.
The checkout section of the App is universal for all Payment methods. In Preferences you are given the option of using the App in two modes – Manual Entry mode and Product List mode. Selecting Manual Entry Mode hides the product catalogue in its entirety You are given a calculator which allows you to quickly and easily total up the amount to charge. This is useful for Merchants who have a lot of ad-hoc products. In Product List mode, the Product Catalogue is displayed, allowing you to quickly total up the number of pre-created products that a customer wishes to purchase. In this mode, you can still manually enter an amount by simply pressing the Calculator icon on the top right. This gives you the Calculator just like in the Manual Entry mode, however this time you press ‘Add to Total’ once you have finished your calculations. It is then added to the list of items to be purchased. Every entry through the calculator (regardless of how many additions or subtractions you do) appear as a single amount on list of items, and are referred to as ‘Amount 1’ with subsequent entries to the calculator being listed as ‘Amount 2’ ‘Amount 3’ and so on. Once an amount is in the list, you can add it multiple times by clicking it (just like any product in the product list). Swiping to the left or right on the item allows you to quickly add or remove quantities of it, as well as change the name from ‘Amount X’. You can also add a picture to it. It is worth noting that if you take a picture of the custom item entered, or change its name, this does not save it to the Product Catalogue for use again. This is not true for products that are already in the Product Catalogue – editing them by swiping left or right constitutes a permanent edit. I feel it would be nice to have an option to store the change for future checkouts or just for this one, as you might want to add a picture of a custom product that is being sold but not store it permanently.
PayPal Here has one of the richest payment method options for all Mobile Payment systems
My biggest complaint with the Payment system overall is the inability to add a note (for either the Merchant or the Customer) anywhere during the payment process. For a lot of merchants in the field, this could be a major drawback as you might need to reference a specific item or just make a note to follow up on something later.
As you would expect, the main method which you can use to pay using PayPal Here is via Card Payment. Once you have totalled up the sales, you simply hand the customer the Chip & PIN device. They insert their card into the Chip & PIN reader (or swipe via the Magnetic reader if needed) and confirm the amount by looking at the Merchant’s device. The customer can then enter their PIN on the pad. As they do so, the LED indicators light up for each PIN number entered (typically 4 in the UK). The Chip & PIN device supports up to 6 Digits in the PIN code. The PIN is confirmed using the Green enter key, or canceled with the Red X key, or the previous digit can be deleted by using the Yellow backspace key.
Once the PIN is confirmed, the merchant’s device confirms the entry and moves to the receipt screen.
- Card payments via the Chip & PIN Reader are charged at 2.75% per transaction
- Card Payments via the Magnetic Swipe reader are charged at 3.40% + 20p per transaction
- There is a minimum charge for Card transactions of £1
Card Not Present Payment
The Card Not Present payment system is handy for when you are doing a transaction over the phone. While you could simply direct the customer to your website and PayPal portal, keeping them on the phone and doing the transaction then and there ensures the transaction completes and they don’t go elsewhere. The system is very simple. Enter the provided Credit Card details in the top box, the Expiry Date, the CSC (Security) code, and the Postcode of the billing address. From a customer relation point of view, it is vitally important that you send them a receipt as soon as this payment completes for their own peace of mind.
My only small concern with using this method is that the Merchant should technically complete a PCI Compliance Questionnaire. It surprised me that PayPal don’t make you complete one, where as Intuit Pay do.
There are two minor caveats for using the Card-not-Present payment method.
- Card Not Present transactions are charged at 3.40% + 20p per transaction
- There is a minimum charge for Card transactions of £1
If a customer chooses to pay in cash, PayPal Here has you covered. You can still use the app to not only record the transaction and send a receipt, but for the mathematically challenged (or lazy) among us, it can calculate how much change to give back to your customer. You simply enter the amount of cash received and then hit Continue.
Paying by cheque may seem like a slightly archaic method now, however some people do still use them. In this instance, PayPal have you covered. The Cheque option may seem a little basic but it is adequate for something that probably won’t get used that much. You simply select ‘Cheque’ from the Payment Methods screen, then enter any notes you wish to on the next screen, then you’re done. PayPal records the sale in your PayPal account
Proximity payments through PayPal Here are probably the most interesting part of the PayPal Here service, and certainly one not offered by any other service thus far.
The concept is simple – If you have a smartphone and a PayPal account, then you can install the PayPal App on your phone and pay directly via that.
Below is a slideshow moving through the procedure from start to finish. The screenshots cover both the Merchant’s device (M) running the PayPal Here App and the Customers device (C) running the PayPal App. PayPal considers the act of ‘checking in’ to be permission to allow yourself to be charged by the business. It would be the responsibility of the merchant to only charge the correct customer.
My biggest worry about this is that the customer does not have to confirm before the amount is charged – I would like to see a further step that confirms the amount (and itemised breakdown) of the transaction before it is charged. The amount is displayed after the transaction is completed, and given that the customer would be in your store (or at your stall), it should be your responsibility as a merchant to accurately communicate what is being charged at any point during the transaction process.
My biggest complaint with this checkout option is the inability to add an Invoice number (this should be optional as you might not know it at Point of Sale).
PayPal Here gives you the opportunity to send a receipt to the customer via Email or by Text. Email receipts contain a summary copy of the transaction along with a link to view the complete receipt. Also in the email are contact details for the company (along with their logo), a web link to their site, and a map pinpointing the location the transaction took place.
When you are in the receipt screen, you have the ability to Add the customer as a contact by pressing the + button on the top left of the screen. This brings you up with a number of fields to fill in about the customer. An existing customer can be looked up by entering any part of their name, their Email Address or Phone Number, thus automatically completing the contact card and receipt screen. A nice feature of the data entry screen is the ability to import contact details from someone in your phonebook by pressing the blue + button next to ‘Contact Information’.
Once the details have been entered into PayPal Here, they are automatically stored, however at no point can you access a database of the contacts you have stored. This might be a problem should you wish to update someone’s contact details if they change.
To refund card transactions from the App, you go to the Menu > Profile > Sales History. From here you can pull up details on each transaction and issue a refund if you need to. A refund can be for a full amount, or for a specified amount (this is a major advantage over iZettle and Intuit Pay!)
There is no way to refund any other form of transaction, other than those done via Card payment or PayPal Here Proximity.
It would be nice to be able to make a note when issuing a refund, both for the Merchant’s records and/or for the customer’s records.
The thing I absolutely love about the PayPal Here unit is the premium feel you have with the unit and the App. As you would expect from PayPal, the whole system works pretty flawlessly, and does exactly what it says on the tin with some nice little touches here and there. I really like the fact that businesses already built around a PayPal payment system can very easily add another payment method to their accounts and don’t have to venture outside of the PayPal ecosystem to accomplish this. Another thing I love is the scalability of the App – It allows you to do Cash sales, Card sales Cheque sales, and even Proximity-based sales.
While I love the quality feel of the PayPal Here Chip & PIN device, as well as the ease-of-use of the PayPal Here App and trust that the PayPal brand instills in customers, I was initially left feeling a touch let down by the presentation of the Chip & PIN device to customers. After asking a few of my customers, as well as family and friends, the overwhelming feedback I was met with was to do with the lack of an LCD readout on the Chip & PIN pad left them feeling slightly disconnected from the transaction. I gave this a lot more thought, and then came to a conclusion that as a merchant, you’re having a face-to-face experience with the customer, instead of a disconnected online selling experience with a customer. As a merchant, it is your responsibility to accurately communicate what you are selling to the customer.
The only other thing I would love is a web portal from where you could Customise your receipts, manage your Product Catalogue, and view / edit your stored Contacts.
Even with those two minor issues, the PayPal Here platform is the most fully featured and user friendly experience out of all the mobile Payment Solutions that I have tested. Given the imminent release of PayPal Beacons, I am eager to see where PayPal go next, and what new products and services will be integrated with the PayPal Here platform.
Changes I would like to see
- A web portal for customisation of receipts and product catalogue management
- An app for computers allowing you to have a larger-scale Point-of-Sale system – some sellers run a PC / Mac as their main Point-of-Sale at fixed business locations (or a laptop for mobile business locations) – this would be easier to use instead of a mobile phone or tablet, making the PayPal Here a completely scalable solution.
- A redesigned card reader with a display, or an option of a slightly more premium card reader with a display – currently the process feels a little disconnected from the customer standpoint
- Receipts should be customisable beyond that of just the logo
- PayPal Here Proximity payments should have an extra stage of authorisation that tells the customer how much they will be charged for – this shouldn’t require the merchant’s device to be shown
- Gratuity should be an option on PayPal Here proximity payments – PayPal have said they are looking into this.
- Invoice payments should give you an option to enter an Invoice Number
- All payment options should allow you to enter notes to the customer and notes to yourself – extremely useful for photographers who need to reference a specific photo
- PayPal Here currently locks down using a full password – change the merchant options to allow for PIN Code for merchant only features and require the password for refunding functions. (finger-print on iPhone 5s could also be used when the API is available).
- When adding a contact to the PayPal, a check box to optionally add their details to a mailing list would be nice (obviously requiring approval from the customer at point of sale – e.g: “Would you like to receive further communication from us?”)
- A method of accessing and modifying stored contacts would be nice, although this may require certain Data Protection Act or PCI compliance from the merchant which might be hard for PayPal to enforce.
- On-the fly (mid-transaction) changes to the product list should have an option whether to save it beyond that transaction or not. This should be true for Custom amounts entered through the manual entry option too.
- A method of doing ‘split method’ payments (e.g: Half on card, half in cash) would be nice, although this is very rarely done.
- API for integration into other apps and/or products.
- Uploading a PNG with a transparent background does not preserve the transparency (See screenshots where my company logo appears with a black background). This error persists through PayPal Here app (Merchant) and PayPal app (Customer). This might be a flaw with how mobile devices handle PNG files though – Adding a web interface to customise PayPal Here might resolve this. As a work-around, replace the transparent sections of your logo with White before uploading your logo. The logo seems to only ever appear on a white background so this should be fine.
- When uploading a Profile photo, if it is not square then the photo will appear crushed. – PayPal Here only supports a resolution up to 300x300px with an aspect ratio of 1:1
- Itemised receipts through PayPal Here Proximity don’t appear to work, instead showing the product lines with a total of £0 with the final total correct – PayPal have reported to me that this bug is due to be fixed in an upcoming release.
- PayPal Here UK
- PayPal Here UK – Learn More
- PayPal Here App – iPhone
- PayPal Here App – iPad
- PayPal Here App – Android
Thanks go out to Kim Shuard of Edalman for helping obtain a review unit, and for the numerous emails that were exchanged in the creation of this review.
All screenshots are taken from the iPhone version of the PayPal Here app (version 1.7.7 build 771), and the iPhone version of the PayPal app (version 5.1.2), using a iPhone 5s running iOS 7.0.3
This review is not sponsored or commissioned by PayPal or any of their affiliated companies (although Kim did provide me with lots of little packets of Jelly Beans – Yum!)