Well, not exactly. It keeps your information on its central, very secure servers. But by using a new software utility for shopping at websites that don't yet accept PayPal payments, PayPal allows you to submit a number for each transaction that is recognized as a valid MasterCard number. They call it PayPal Secure Card.
"From a merchant's perspective this looks like any other MasterCard transaction," said Chris George, director of financial products for PayPal. "And it's just another PayPal purchase to the customer."
Secure Card has been tested by 3 million PayPal customers in the past year. The plug-in will be available to U.S. customers on Tuesday, with international customers to follow.
When a PayPal customer wants to pay for something on a site that doesn't normally accept PayPal payments, users click a downloaded PayPal button on their browsers to generate a unique, single-instance Secure Card transaction number.
"Actual PayPal activity goes up," George said. "It makes sense, because it just makes shopping easier and safer."
The day is soon coming where credit card transactions will all be based on one-use numbers generated for each transaction, with sensitive personal information about the credit card account and user completely hidden from the merchant -- and the phisher. I'd prefer to use this method of payment for everything, right now. Pretty soon your inbox will be filled only with male enhancement and deceased Nigerian Prince e-mails, and the "Dear valued bank customer, press this button" scams will disappear completely.