PayPal Tries to Woo Low-Tech Merchants

    By Christina DesMarais | Small Business

    In a move no doubt aimed at luring Square's customers, a new PayPal promotion waives thousands of dollars in transaction fees for businesses.

    If your small business uses an old-fashioned cash register or if you don't yet take credit and debit cards, PayPal is running a promotion that might make you change your ways.

    Called the "Cash for Registers" program, PayPal will waive up to $20,000 worth of transaction fees a month from July 10 through the end of January 2014 for the first 10,000 qualified merchants that upgrade to a point-of-sale system that makes use of PayPal Here.

    To qualify you have to buy at least $450 in hardware, which could include an iPad stand, receipt printer, and cash drawer. You can get a bundle from PayPal partners ShopKeepPOS and Vend, both of which allow merchants to take PayPal funds as tender and offer accounting, supply chain management and CRM features.

    Businesses that don't need a complicated POS setup can also buy hardware from and download to an iPad PayPal Here, an app similar to competitors like Square, Intuit GoPayment, and PayAnywhere. These mobile payment solutions all give you a free card reader that plugs into your phone or tablet and charge anywhere from 2.75 percent per transaction or less, depending on if you choose to lower or eliminate swipe fees by paying a flat monthly rate.

    PayPal Here lets you accept not only credit and debit cards but cash and checks as well as PayPal funds, of course. Normally PayPal Here charges merchants 2.7 percent per swipe and says that by waiving these fees business owners can recoup the cost of investing in the hardware.

    "We know that the return on that is extraordinarily fast, less than usually one or two months," says Gary Marino, PayPal SVP of global financial services and the Americas.

    While PayPal wouldn't break out how much PayPal Here accounts for its $14 billion total payment volume for 2012 across all its mobile products, it says the app has hundreds of thousands of users. Clearly the company is hoping Cash for Registers will amp up those numbers, which are paltry compared with Square--which has more than three million individuals and businesses on board and processes $15 billion in transactions a year not including the credit and debit transactions it handles for 7,000 Starbucks locations. In fact, one financial expert has even predicted that PayPal might try to buy Square in 2013.

    If you don't care about competition in the mobile payments space but just want to take advantage of waived transaction fees for six months, check it out before September 30, 2013.

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