eBay, PayPal Bring Mobile Commerce to Wearables at SXSW

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The wearable technology train has logged quite a few miles so far this year, making big stops at CES, Mobile World Congress and now SXSW, where two more unlikely players are entering the space. 

“Wearable devices are the next frontier,” Steve Yankovich, VP innovation and new ventures at eBay, wrote in a blog post. “Personalization will be key for the future of mobile—creating seamless experiences for shoppers on the go.” The e-commerce company, which also owns PayPal, hopes to be a portal for mobile payments on every type of screen, whether its on a smartphone, smartwatch, or other wearable device. 

eBay and PayPal—who are at the center of an activist investor tug of war—were busy touting their smartwatch apps at SXSW for both Pebble and Samsung’s Gear line, which was recently announced at Mobile World Congress and now includes the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, as well as the Gear Fit. The apps were launched on Samsung’s original wearable device, the Galaxy Gear, last year, so the apps have achieved a coveted spot as a “featured app” on the latest editions.[more]

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PayPal is the first payment provider on the Gear 2, enabling users to check-in to pay at local stores, save and redeem offers, send money and receive payment notifications.

“Think about someone who’s riding a bike. It’s not convenient for a rider to pull out a phone and order a new helmet,” Yankovich said. “But if the device is already on his or her wrist and it’s active, the rider is more likely to make the purchase.” Additional apps on the Gear 2, which will be available in April, include Banjo, BMW, CNN, Conde Nast, Expedia, Evernote, Feedly, Garmin, Glympse, OnStar, iControl, Line, Path, Runtastic, Volkswagen, Weather Channel and Under Armour’s Map My Fitness.

Still, there is concern among merchants about Gear 2’s display—1.63 inches—making it a challenge for consumers to adequately visualize products as compared to viewing it on tablets and smartphone screens.

Wearables weren’t the only focus of eBay’s SXSW presence. A notorious breeding ground for startups, PayPal announced a new round of incubators and accelerators for its Startup Blueprint program. Through a collaboration with Braintree, startups can access $50,000 worth of processing fees. 

Of course, that’s all on top of the free coffee, earbuds and 1 cent chargers for sale at PayPal’s social media lounge. 

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