PayPal relaunches its virtual MasterCard service

Users of PayPal with long memories will recall that the service trialled a virtual MasterCard system for US users back in the early part of the decade - before, I think, the UK/European division of Paypal was launched.

The trials never came to anything, but it seems that Paypal - now part of the eBay empire - has resurrected the idea, again for its US users, although with plans to expand it internationally if the trials are a success.

Now known as the PayPal Secure Card, the virtual card operates a Web browser plug-in that triggers automatically when a Paypal users reaches the checkout page on an e-tailer's Web site.

The system uses the same approach as Citibank's virtual card system and is essentially an extension of the PayPal service, allowing PayPal users to use their accounts at merchants that don't accept Paypal as a payments mechanism.

As with Google Checkout, the plan is to promote the PayPal MasterCard system with special discounts at selected merchants.

I like the sound of that - let's hope PayPal rolls the card system out in the UK sooner, rather than later...