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BlingTag's PayPal payments in the wild--photos

Mobile payments are heating up. We field-tested one solution that's paired with PayPal.

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Jessica Dolcourt
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Jessica Dolcourt
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Payment, PayPal, and Palo Alto

U.S. residents may not be able to pay for cab fare by swiping their mobile phone, but in some shops in Palo Alto, CA, you can buy your lunch.

We field-tested Bling Nation's NFC-chipped BlingTag, a point-of-sale alternative to credit and debit cards.

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Tap-to-Pay

Unlike peer-to-peer mobile payment transfers, Bling Nation's approach is all hardware, using the phone's physical form as a conduit for the NFC (near field communication) chip that talks to the merchant's payment console.

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Bling console

Paying for a product at a participating retailer entails the cashier entering your phone number, you receiving a text, and the cashier entering that two-digit pin into the console. You'll receive a receipt and another confirmation message about your purchase. In the meantime, Bling Nation deducts your debit from your PayPal account.

The NFC radio signals that get the payment terminal and your BlingTag talking are encrypted and constantly changing, unlike static security codes baked into plastic credit and debit cards. Removing the BlingTag sticker damages the antenna, a security precaution.

Read more in our hands-on field test.

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