PayPal has come a long way -- and now it's back in your living room.
eBay's (EBAY) popular online payment system is working on new ways to make financial transactions possible right from your TV.
Bloomberg is reporting that DVR pioneer TiVo (TIVO) and leading cable provider Comcast (CMCSK) are working with PayPal to let consumers engage with the ads that they're seeing on television. If you think QVC and Home Shopping Network are state-of-the-art, just wait until you see what PayPal has in store.
There's Finally Something Good on TV
Wouldn't it be cool if when a political ad or a charity spot comes on, you could donate to the cause without leaving your armchair? It certainly would be neat if you could buy an advertised product right on the spot, right? If a commercial for a new car or a breakthrough medication hit the airwaves, wouldn't it be great if you could seamlessly use your remote to have advertisers send you more information through your phone?
PayPal Vice President Scott Dunlap is telling Bloomberg that all of this may be possible as early as this fall.
We've Been Here Before
If you've been watching TV lately, you've probably seen the Shazam logo show up on some ads. It's an invitation for smarpthone owners with the Shazam music-recognition app to fire up the program to receive more information on the product being advertised.
TiVo teamed up with Domino's Pizza (DPZ) three summers ago on a cutting-edge application. Whenever a Domino's commercial popped up, TiVo owners would be able to order up a delivered pizza right from their TV screens using the TiVo remote.
The summer before that, TiVo joined forces with Amazon.com (AMZN) for another TV tech partnership that was ahead of its time. Folks watching Oprah Winfrey or Stephen Colbert talking up a book would be able to buy the featured read using only their remote control.
PayPal can use its mainstream appeal to get larger cable providers and satellite television companies to play nice with the possibilities. Advertisers will love the ability to improve their chances of closing the deal on their ads, and that naturally will mean good things for broadcasters and networks that will be able to command more ad revenue.
Picking Up Where TiVo Left Off
What's the difference between TiVo back then and PayPal teaming up with TiVo today? Well, TiVo itself only has 2.5 million subscribers. PayPal, on the other hand, closed out its latest quarter with 109.8 million active registered accounts.
We've had smartphones for years, and now we're finally at the age of the smart television -- though ultimately, it will still only be as smart as the decisions that viewers make when they use it.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Amazon.com.