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Home Depot launches mobile payments to streamline checkout

Big box retailer Home Depot is ramping up its mobile strategy by testing a PayPal-enabled mobile payment solution at select stores.

The news marks Home Depot as the first retailer to sign on with PayPal as part of a bigger initiative from Paypal to bridge online and in-store traffic for retailers. The program has been in use since early December in five Home Depot locations in the United States and utilizes PayPal’s point-of-sale mobile payment service.

“Retail is changing with the emergence of these technologies that blur the lines between online and offline,” said Anuj Nayar, director of communications for PayPal, San Jose, CA.

“Mobile payments is only one small change that retailers need to compete in with in order to match what consumers are doing in stores, including bar code scanning and price comparing,” he said.

Mobile home
Home Depot is the first retailer to be announced from PayPal’s new mobile payment solution to help retailers integrate mobile payments at point-of-sale stations.

PayPal is reportedly working with 20 retailers on the initiative and has plans to release the names of other retailers in the following months.

The PayPal-enabled program lets consumers pay for items by using the PayPal mobile wallet.

Users can either enter their phone number at check-out on a kiosk to have the bill sent to their carrier’s account bill. Consumers can also pay via a PayPal-issued credit card that connects with their phone account number.

The program also has tentative plans to extend to other Home Depot locations if the test trial is successful.

Payment war
PayPal has been aggressively pursuing mobile payments recently to claim its piece of the mobile pie.

For example, in December PayPal tested a NFC-enabled mobile app in two retail locations in Sweden (see story).

Mobile payments are a hot item, but until recently it has been difficult for retailers to get behind the technology.

PayPal’s push for mobile payments in 2012 might be a response to Google Wallet, which let numerous retailers and brands in 2011 with mobile payments.

However, some experts believe that mobile payments still have a way to go to get consumers on board and will be more driven by NFC-enabled mobile devices.

“In the long-term, NFC phones will become more pervasive and normal credit cards will be mobilized,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry, Larkspur, CA.

Mr. Sievers is not affiliated with PayPal or Home Depot. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“A mobile payment has to have a very rich incentive for a consumer to latch on to, and merchants need to layer on relevant offers and deals in order for them to stick around,” Mr. Sievers said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York