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PayPal acquires mobile payment start-up Fig Card

April 28, 2011 |  7:18 pm

Ebay paypal  Online payment service PayPal has acquired Fig Card, a mobile payment start-up that replaces credit cards with smartphones.

Boston-based Fig Card enables merchants to accept mobile payments with a USB device that plugs into a cash register, according to a Thursday post on the PayPal blog. Customers must download the Fig Card app in advance and set up a payment method, but no hardware is required.

"We loved [Fig Card's] approach to point-of-sale," the post said, "particularly because it was driven by the same vision that we have at PayPal -- in the future, transactions can be as smart as a computer and not as dumb as paper.

"We don't need our physical wallets. We'll be able to pay any way we want, from any device, anywhere in the world with both flexibility and privacy."

Fig Card's model differs from Square, a popular mobile payment system with which smartphones and iPads can be used as credit card readers. A little device that plugs into the earphone jack accepts credit card swipes; the service later emails a receipt to customers.

This is the second acquisition in as many weeks for parent company EBay Inc., which appears to be angling for a good position with the exploding popularity of smartphones and mobile app technology. Earlier this month, EBay bought location-based advertising company Where.com, which builds apps that list and suggest deals for local restaurants, bars, stores and events.

EBay has kept mum about the exact terms of both deals.

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-- Shan Li

Photo: EBay and PayPal signage at company headquarters in San Jose. Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

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