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Thursday, September 5, 2013

PayPal Refreshes Mobile App to Woo Shoppers and Fight Off Rivals

For PayPal and its mobile application, the fifth time could be the charm.

On Thursday, the company released a new version of its application for both iPhone and Android devices, one that it hopes will help increase adoption and secure the company’s footprint in the mobile e-commerce market. It’s the fifth iteration since the online payments company first released an application for the iPhone, in 2008.

Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s senior director of global initiatives, said that over the past few years the company had realized that mobile wallets on their own were not always that compelling, or more convenient, for users. Pulling out cash or a credit card is often much easier than fumbling with an application to pay. Instead, Mr. Nayar said, the company wants to focus on bonus features and benefits that can come from using the PayPal mobile application.

“It’s what you build on top, like offers and the ability to order ahead,” he said. “These are the things that will drive consumer adoption.”

The company has reshuffled the main screen of its application to highlight the features that it hopes will appeal to users most: The ability to send money to friends or pay for certain items in some store. The company is also promoting offers and coupons in the new version of its mobile application. In addition, the application now lets users place and pay for orders ahead in some restaurants and shops, like Jamba Juice.

Mr. Nayar said that PayPal has tested many of these features in Sydney, Australia, where PayPal usage is high. Those trials have been successful enough that the company wants to introduce them in other major metropolitan cities around the world.

PayPal’s mobile update comes right as other mobile-commerce companies, both large and small, are rolling out their own ways to let people pay with their mobile phones, although no one has so far been able to woo the masses in the United States.

The company declined to share information about how many people currently use the PayPal app to make purchases, but it said it has 132 million PayPal accounts around the world.