back to article PayPal enables cash-by-slap

The latest version of PayPal's iPhone application allows users to transfer money by bumping their handsets together, putting one more nail into the NFC coffin. PayPal's application allows those with an account to reimburse each other for a split bill, collect money for a leaving present or donate money to charity on a whim. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    If you are close enough to someone to "bump" your phones, then why on earth would you choose to trust/use Paypal to transfer money between the two of you, unless of course you were insane?

    Wouldn't it be safer use cash or write a cheque or do a normal online normal bank transfer?

    Let's face it, just chucking some cash in the air and hoping the othe person catches it would be safer than going through Paypal!! If the cash got lost, at least you'd know why.

    1. Ralph B

      It'll go something like this ...

      "Gissa quid."

      "OK." <Bump> "There. I've bumped you a quid."

      "Yeah, but I only received 50p."

      "Ah, OK, PayPal charges. I'll bump you another quid." <Bump>

      "Yeah, got it ... but, wait a minute, my account's been frozen."

      "Shit. So has mine."

      1. Fatman

        Cash by slap

        How observant!!!!!

        And, then try to get your account unfrozen. Hell would freeze over first.

        Flames, and you know why!

  2. Mark 164

    Re AC. Why, indeed.

    Not only that, but PayPal also charge for their services. If you're close enough to bump iPhones together, just give your mate the cash directly into his hand.

  3. Peter 2

    A new term for the dictionary...

    I claim first usage of the term "slappy-cashing".

    *All rights reserved, etc.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      but, wait; there's more!

      I was just now thinking: this could give a whole new meaning to the expression "hey, man, gimme five!"

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Sounds like another failure in the making

    Let me sum up the indicators :

    - the exact time

    - the rough location

    - the force of the bump as measured by the accelerometer

    - various other clues

    Time is maybe the indicator with the most probability of exactitude, except that there is no guarantee that the two phones have the exact same time. So it'll be the exact same time within a given number of many milliseconds.

    The location is charted probably following triangulation. Without other reference, you could be giving your cash to anybody in a 10-yard radius.

    The force of the bump. Okay, one question : how accurate are those accelerometers ? Two random phones have what probability of containing similarly-accurate accelerometers ? Is this really needed ?

    Frankly, I'd be more inspired by a solution that said "place the two phones together within 3 inches of each other and then authorize the transaction manually - the phones will sense their closest neighbor and, when authorized, complete the transfer".

    In that kind of solution, there is no timestamp, no hazardous evaluation of location, no worry about someone else butting in. It's just the phone that is closest to yours, detected by BlueTooth or something similar. That would be just about as reliable and fool-proof as you can get.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ...I believe you've just invented NFC

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not a problem

      The time will come from the GPS and, I suspect, the bump will be ignored completely.

      It's just a slick user interface for identifying two parties. Exactly the sort of thing Apple like. Very clever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        GPS? In the middle of a city?

        You're having a laugh! I can think of at least 10 spots of more than 200m radius within a mile of where I'm sitting where GPS signals on iPhones are so poor you're lucky to get your position accurate to within 50 yards. And it's pretty flat here in the fens. Busy places too. Lots of iPhones I suspect. Good chance of other people trying to use the service in the same area at the same time. What about in buildings? What about cities with big tall buildings?

        1. DavyBoy79

          GPS and Time

          Firstly, GPS requires at least 3 signals to be received to allow triangulation, minimum of 4 for it to properly work. But that is for working out the position of the device. You can get a time signal from a single GPS satellite. It will be inaccurate to the order of microseconds because of the delay it has from travelling from the satellite to your handset, but it should be accurate to the millisecond.

          I would imagine most outdoor places in busy citys would still be able to get a single signal, but you would not be able to determine it, because the GPS indicator would always be red, as it can't get the remaining 2-3 signals.

          Inside, yeah, game over for using GPS time.

  5. Tom_

    Think it through

    The timing, force, location and so on let it identify the two phones involved in the transaction, but then it will still rely on the users putting in PINs and authorizing it.

    So surely it's going to show something on both phones' screens to show those are the ones in the transaction. In other words, people will bump the phones together with both screens visible to both people, so they can see that it's working. If you don't see the other person's screen display the right information then don't authorise the transaction.

  6. Lau
    Dead Vulture

    Always about NFC...

    What has this solution got to do with NFC technology?!?

    Is the person behind this "enlightening" article aware that NFC is not only about card emulation? I mean, anytime a company comes up with a technology that could be used for proximity payment, no matter how bizarre or unlikely to be implemented it is, the Register posts an article about nails in the NFC coffin...

    One question: Outside is raining. Is that bad news for NFC?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I thought

    banging iPhones too hard caused the battery to explode???

  8. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    In other news..

    .. an iPhone user was clubbed over the head with his phone, thus emptying his bank account.

    London. An unsuspecting iPhone user received a nasty surprise when his iPhone was used to empty his bank account. The thief, who had identified his victim by the tell-tale white earphones, grabbed his victim's phone and proceeded to knock him over the head until he had stated his PIN number. After starting the App, the victim was subjected to several more knocks to activate the transaction whilst the attacker stated "Robbery? There's an App for that".

    The victim was left bleeding in the gutter, sans iPhone which was found in an adjacent street as it has run out of battery. The iPhone suffered no damage in the process, despite not having a screen protector fitted as they are no longer sold in Apple shops.

    Up until now, no clue to the identity of the assailant exists other than that he used another stolen iPhone for the transaction. The Western Union payment following the robbery could, as always, not be traced.

  9. Eddy Ito

    Still not clear

    So I find myself in a bad neighborhood of a strange city in a foreign land and three blokes come up to me saying "lets bump". Naturally, I expect they want to lend me a fiver but will I get a good exchange rate on the money?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <Insert title here>

    Does the bump speed and impact make any difference? If so, if its for a large sum of cash - do you just beat the living shit out of the recipient with your phone?

    "But I was just paying him officer"

  11. pctechxp

    @Peter 2

    or charity giving would be 'Happy-slappy-cashing'?

  12. armyknife

    Better a meritocracy than titles

    OK, I know this is rather out there, blue sky thinking, but I've had this real left-field idea:

    Couldn't they just exchange a few notes or coins ?


    on reflection it's a rubbish idea; not enough shinny white plastic involved.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    happy i don't use paypal

    She knows i only do direct deposit.

  14. Graham Marsden

    And you thought...

    ... that that Lap Dancer was just being very enthusiastic...

  15. Cliff


    Oh come on my luddite friends, think about this in reality - nobody will use this when there is real cash around, but stag nights in the pub, time to put another £20 into the kitty - *bang* done. Compared with going out to find a cashpoint, or using one in the pub with a £1.75 fee, and you're a bit tipsy, perfect storm. And iPhone cretins will be the perfect launch audience. I expect it'll have pretty animations of coins flying from one phone to the other too.

    The article says you have to verify the transaction, so this is really just a gimmick to make the 'ok, what's your paypal account email?' stage disappear - boink, authorise, done. And as it's the devices handling the proxying, you need never reveal your account name, I guess?

  16. TianZ

    ...Oh Dear...

    To all those of you who are questioning the "Bump" mechanism - this was not developed by PayPal, and is something invented and maintained by some other geeks...

    As for cash - I know that I don't always have cash on me, and unfortunately, my friends sometimes forget their PDQ machines (damn them for their incompetence!), so they can't accept my Visa Debit card payments...if only there was some other payment mechanism?

    Oh, bank transfers - "Give me your account number and sort code" (said in a Nigerian accent)...and then wait...although if we're lucky, there will be "fast payments" enabled between the two banks...

    And NFC in general - OMG, my Barclaycard already has an RFID coil in it (which interferes with my Oyster card - YEAH!), I'm waay ahead of the game...oh wait, there needs to be technology to actually accept my NFC payment, and then the retailer needs to adopt this technology - but I'm sure that Barclaycard won't charge retailers any more for it, because they don't charge for payments anyway, right?


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Using Paypal is like eating dodgy canned food...................

    It's (expensively) FINE until you actually get the can with the botulism......

    And then you are fucked.

  18. lukewarmdog

    "Do you Bump?"

    "Sure I do"

    /gets out phone

    /cries as phone is stolen

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