PayPal. Still the best way to pay for lunch

The first day I started working at PayPal, I was issued a Palm Pilot. I was told it was tradition, so I didn’t refuse it. ;) The second PayPal tradition I was introduced to, was lunch at Jing Jing. Jing Jing serves cheap, spicy Chinese food, and the restaurant was located just 20 feet away from our offices at 165 Univeristy in downtown Palo Alto.

Every meal I ever ate at Jing Jing, with a group from work, always ended the same way. Someone (usually not me) would volunteer to pay the bill. What would happen next always made other diners look up from their steaming bowls of wor wonton soup. A group of 5-10, sleep deprived PayPal employees, sitting around one of those big lazy susan rotating tables, would begin to dig into their pockets for their Palm Pilots. The benefactor (he or she who covered the bill) would position their Palm Pilot to the group. Then, the beaming would begin. “Beaming” was sending money via the infrared transmitter on your Palm Pilot. You would enter your share of the bill, aim, and fire. Once you got back to the office, you would drop your Palm into the cradle, synch, and voila! Your szchezuan chicken was paid for.

This morning I was thinking about this because I noticed an interesting article on Digital Transactions about how PayPal employees are paying for their lunches now. PayPal allows its employees to pay for their lunch in the company cafeteria by swiping their ID badges at the POS. It’s another example of contactless payment, but with the added cost-savings of PayPal’s stored value. Nice! Now, if they could just figure out a way to offer some half-decent food in that lousy cafeteria.

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