February 13, 2012, 4:02 PM

PayPal tests subway shopping

Singapore commuters can buy items via QR codes plastered to subway walls.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

It may not seem like it, but a Singapore subway station may be a good place to shop for Valentine’s Day. At least that’s an expectation PayPal has for a test its conducting in 15 Singapore commuter stations.

PayPal, a unit of online marketplace eBay Inc., installed signs attached to station walls with offers from eight retailers. Headlined “Shop & Pay on-the-go!” the ads promote flowers, chocolates, fashion totes, spa sessions, entertainment events and remote control cars. Each retailer has a section of the ad to display information about the product and a Quick Response code. A QR code is a form of two-dimensional bar code. It appears typically as a black-and-white square with a pattern of tiny black-and-white squares within. Smartphone apps scan these codes by using the phone’s built-in camera.

In the PayPal test, which started Feb. 2 and runs through Feb. 23, consumers use any 2-D bar code scanning app to scan the QR code. A successful scan generates a PayPal checkout page for that merchant. The consumer enters their PayPal username and password to authorize payment without having to type in a credit card number or shipping address. Consumers may request to pick up the item in a store or have it shipped to their addresses.

The test is designed to gauge how well consumers use the QR codes to shop, PayPal says. Singapore is an apt location given that smartphone penetration reached 70% of all mobile phone users in 2011, according to a Nielsen Southeast Asia Digital Consumer Report issued in November.

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