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PayPal burnishes brand image as mobile use surges

A PayPal card is shown as customers can now pay with the card at selected Home Depot stores such as the one in Daly City, California, Februa
A PayPal card is shown as customers can now pay with the card at selected Home Depot stores such as the one in Daly City, California, Februa

By Deepa Seetharaman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The online payment company PayPal is getting a shiny new look and its first-ever global marketing push as parent eBay Inc tries to wrest attention away from the growing number of rivals piling into the mobile payments market.

The brand overhaul unveiled on Wednesday includes a more vibrant, simple logo designed to suit mobile phones and wearable devices like wristbands and PayPal's first-ever television ads in the U.S. market. The campaign will last throughout the summer and into fall 2014.

The move comes as PayPal, the dominant online payment processor, shifts its focus toward mobile phones and the fast-growing market to enable consumers to pay for physical goods and services with their smartphones.

"If you look at us visually online, we look very similar to financial service companies," said Christina Smedley, vice president of global brand and communications at PayPal.

"Our brands and the ways consumers are going to experience them, the way people are going to touch us, is going to change hugely in coming years," she said.

The company declined to specify the total cost of the marketing campaign, but said it was the largest ever planned for PayPal, which accounts for a large chunk of eBay's overall stock market value and its growth outpaces the rest of the company.

The U.S. mobile payment market will reach $90 billion by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012, according to Forrester Research. Research firm Gartner expects the global market will see a more than threefold rise by 2017 to $721 billion.

That potential has attracted the likes of Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc and Square Inc. Between 3 percent and 7 percent of consumers worldwide use in-store mobile payments, but up to 27 percent are willing to try, according to Bain & Company.

With 143 million active users at the end of 2013, PayPal is the dominant online payment provider, but it is not used widely for in-store payments in the United States, Bain said.

"Our research showed that people needed to be reminded of some of the core benefits that we have and this felt like a way we could bring it together," Smedley said.

This is the first makeover for PayPal since 2007. The logo was developed by the firm led by designer Yves Behar, who is also chief creative officer for Jawbone, a maker of headsets and a fitness-tracker product.

The marketing efforts come a few weeks after activist investor Carl Icahn dropped his efforts to force eBay to hive off PayPal, eBay's most attractive and fastest-growing unit.

During a call on Tuesday to discuss first-quarter earnings, Chief Executive John Donahoe said eBay was focused on extending PayPal's scope and its marketing spending for PayPal will ramp up in coming quarters.

"Our focus at this stage is extend the reach and if we extend the reach over time, we will have plenty of opportunity to monetize," Donahoe said.

(Editing by Matt Driskill)

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