PayPal’s newest feature looks a whole lot like Square’s “Cashtags”

PayPal’s newest feature is similar to a recent update to Square Cash.
PayPal’s newest feature is similar to a recent update to Square Cash.
Image: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
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If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Square should be blushing.

PayPal announced today (Sept. 1) it will let users create “personalized URLs” they can share with people to send them money. It seems simple and useful—and very close to a feature Square rolled out for businesses just a few months ago.

By going to PayPal.Me and reserving your unique address, you can send the URL to anyone through any channel—social media, messaging apps, blog posts, articles, emails, etc. The feature is also platform agnostic, so it works on your mobile device, tablet, or computer.

The rollout follows a recent PayPal study that found users were “uncomfortable” with IOUs, which is a bit ironic considering PayPal subsidiary Venmo is built on the idea of people feeling comfortable with owing money and paying it back digitally.

It’s unclear how sending someone a URL is significantly less awkward than asking someone for the money they owe you. But PayPal and its payment rivals are always looking to remove friction from transactions.

In March, Square Cash announced $Cashtags, a “unique identifier that enables anyone to create a personalized name,” as Square’s blog post wrote at the time.

Cashtags were marketed primarily towards businesses, whereas Paypal is targeting the average user. The incentive for merchants was a lower transaction fee—only 1.5% via Square Cash, versus a 2.75% fee for Square reader transactions. Square also partnered with a number of non-profits and charities to promote the feature, including Wikipedia ($Wikipedia), (RED) ($RED), Khan Academy ($KhanAcademy).