This week’s holiday-theme gragbag of payments patents and patents pending focuses on privacy—and why no one should have it.

Using Beacons To Intelligently Send Shoppers To The Shortest Lines

PayPal was issued a Patent on Tuesday (Jan. 5) for a way to use retailer-based wireless beacons to calculate how much a shopper is buying and to then send them to the best checkout lane. It may or may not be the best lane for that shopper, but it will be the best to move the greatest number of customers out as quickly as possible. “Using this information and a payment instrument the user utilizes to complete a transaction for the items/services, the expected time for the user to complete a checkout and payment to the merchant may be determined. The expected time can be used to direct the user to a checkout line that minimizes a wait time for each line.”

The patent argued that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.

“At various merchant locations, such as a merchant’s retail store, a user may browse items and/or services for sale from the merchant and select various items/services for purchase from the merchant. These items/services may be grouped in areas together, such as a produce or bakery of a shopping market or a computers or televisions section of an electronics store. Based on the amount of items/services purchased, the user may spend a different amount of time completing a checkout and payment. For example, purchasing one bag of apples may be very quick; however, purchasing enough vegetables, meat, condiments, and hamburger buns for a barbeque may take a considerably larger amount of time,” the Patent said. “Moreover, certain items/services may take longer to purchase by nature of the type of item/service. While purchasing soft drinks for a barbeque may be accomplished quickly, it may take longer to purchase alcohol for a party due to checking identification to verify age, completing a more expensive purchase, or retrieving items that are under security precautions. Moreover, payment methods may cause users to spend different amounts of time completing a payment. However, merchants merely guide users to checkout lines without determining how long the user may take to checkout. Thus, these checkout lines may not be optimized to increase user throughput and create a better user experience. ”

MasterCard Has A Better Way To Aggregate Small Payments

On Dec. 24, MasterCard filed a patent application on what it argues could be a better way to aggregate small payments, leveraging a shopper’s history and credit worthiness.

“Merchants that regularly transact with a particularly consumer, especially over a relatively short period of time (e.g., hours or days), may sometimes aggregate transactions for the consumer over the period of time and then process a single, aggregated transaction. This may be especially true for instances where the transactions are payment transactions for small amounts, or micropayments. For example, many online retailers that sell music to consumers often aggregate transactions over a period of time (e.g., 3 days) as each transaction is often for a low amount (e.g., 99 cents).  By aggregating transactions over time into a single transaction, these merchants can process a significantly smaller number of transactions, and therefore cut down on the fees paid as part of the transaction processing process. For instance, if a consumer of the online music retailer purchases six different songs at 99 cents each during an aggregation period, the retailer may process a single transaction for $5.94 at the end of the period rather than six separate transactions for $0.99 each. This can result in significant savings for the merchant, particularly when multiplied by hundreds or thousands of consumers,” the Patent filing said. “However, aggregating transactions may be dangerous for merchants in some instances. For example, if a consumer fails to satisfy payment for an aggregated transaction, the merchant may be out a much larger amount than if the consumer had failed to satisfy payment on a first transaction, and then subsequent transactions denied. For instance, in the online music retailer example, if the consumer failed payment on the first $0.99 cent transaction, the merchant may prohibit the consumer from engaging in the subsequent five transactions and save the $4.95 that would have otherwise been lost from the aggregated transaction. Thus, there is a need for a technical solution to introduce variability in the aggregating of payment transactions and intelligently aggregate the transactions based on consumer trustworthiness.”

Happy [Personal Event, Ma’am/Sir]!

MasterCard also filed a patent application on Dec. 24 for a delightfully sanitized way of appearing to treat a customer as a person.

The Patent application described “a method for imputing a personal holiday associated with a consumer into a forecast model, the method includes accessing, using a processing device, transaction records associated with purchasing activity of a consumer over a predetermined period of time, the transaction records being associated with a payment network and including information about a purchase and a calendar date when the purchase was made. The method also includes predicting, using the processing device, a date associated with a personal holiday of the consumer within the predetermined period of time based on the transaction records, wherein the personal holiday repeats at regular intervals within the predetermined period of time; and imputing, using the processing device, the date into a forecast model to predict future purchase activity of the consumer associated with the personal holiday.”

PayPal Wants Your Wallet To Announce You To Store Clerks

This Christmas Eve Patent application from PayPal wants mobile wallets to announce a shopper’s presence—and purchase history—to any nearby mobile-equipped associate.

“A service provider generates a customer key and a merchant key for facilitating efficient provision of assistance, by the merchant, with the customer’s shopping and payment, via customer-merchant key coupling. When a customer approaches or enters a merchant’s store the customer has signed up with, the user device carried by the customer wirelessly broadcasts a signal for the customer key unique to the merchant key. When the merchant server picks up the signal, the service provider communicates to the merchant server information in the user’s profile including identifiers, shopping preferences, or the shopping history of the customer, subject to any user-created restrictions contained in the profile so that a sales clerk of the store may approach the customer to give recommendations, suggestions, or other assistance with shopping, based on the information,” the application said.