Exploring Toronto with PayPal (#paypalit)

PayPal app logo on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnyone who knows me in real life will know I am a total gadget geek. My parents will be the first to confirm this (and we all know where I get this from, right Dad?! 😉 ) and Neil will be the second.  I argue as part of my professional duties as both a teacher and a digital content producer (of both words and photographs), it’s important that I am up on the latest in gadgets and apps.  I am all about streamlining things if possible and using tech to make my life easier.

So when PayPal contacted me and asked if I’d like to visit some independent restaurants, cafes and other merchants in Toronto that accept payments through the PayPal app, I jumped at the chance.  Over the past few months, the @PayPal global Instagram account has been showcasing cities around the US withPayPal-accepting merchants and Toronto is the first city outside the US to be a part of this!  Some of the placed I visited will be featured by the @PayPal  Instagram account as part of this “City Guide” series.   A project combining technology, food and photography? Sign me up!

But wait, “What’s that?” I hear you ask – “Paying with an app? As in – with your phone. Walletless?” Yup! Intriguing huh?  You do need a PayPal account (connected to either your bank chequing account or a credit card) to start with (I’ve had one for many years), then you simply download the app, connect your account (there’s a password sign-in each time you re-open the app) and you’re good to go at any merchant that accepts PayPal payments.  The app makes it convenient to grab a coffee, pick up a sandwich or pay a dinner bill without ever pulling out a wallet.  Simply “check in” with the app, your photo will appear on the merchant’s version of the app, add your tip (if appropriate) and voilà, you’ve just paid with PayPal!

You just paid with PayPal on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere are over 100 locations around Toronto, mainly food-related, that accept PayPal, so you can be sure I had a hard time choosing where to go! The app will show you the merchants “near you” that accept PayPal so quite often I would find myself looking to see what was closeby that I might want/ need to check out.

It was a fun project and I chose to integrate PayPal-accepting merchants with my everyday life and places I already visit – cafés, bakeries, restaurants and bars. I managed to invite a few people along for the adventure as well and found there to be a good variety of merchants – as in, I wasn’t going out of my way to find places to use the app. I will say that over the past few weeks, I have eaten out much more often than I normally would but it was a wonderful opportunity to explore Toronto’s food scene (including a lot of places that had been on my “to try” list for a while!) differently – mostly without having to take out my wallet!  Neil and I even had a couple of nights where we cabbed it to a bar, walked to a restaurant, then cabbed it home – with no need to ever get out cash or a credit/debit card.

New technology is not without its glitches, however,  so there were a few times when the app didn’t work. All the merchants were apologetic and it was good to see them working with PayPal Canada to fix the issues (I went to a couple of the places more than once).  If you have an experience where the app doesn’t work for whatever reason (on your end or the merchant’s), the @PayPalCA twitter handle is there to help – feel free to reach out and let them know.  I think it’s a matter of making sure all the staff are trained know what to do when the app doesn’t work as expected (some staff were more tech-savvy than others) and that certainly seems to be what most of the places are working on. Sometimes, it was just a matter of re-starting their end of the app to make it all work properly. So as long as you have back-up cash or a card, you’re good to go.  But for the most part, it was a pretty seamless experience and kind of “otherworldly” in a Jetsons-like way. I mean – whoah – here I am paying for dinner with my phone? Who would have thought?

This project definitely made me seek out places I’d been wanting to go for ages and for that I was glad. I loved the fact that many of these places are pretty small businesses yet they offer this service – as one of the merchants told me, “When it works, it’s the best thing ever (for both parties)“. It’s true – paying with PayPal could not be easier – often I would be all checked in and waiting for something to happen (you know, waiting for the machine to punch in your code, waiting for the chit to sign etc…) and chatting with someone when the server would interrupt to tell me “You’re good to go” and I’d glance at my phone to notice I’d paid already!  I like the fact that you can enter the tip amount on your own device (although the option to add a dollar amount rather than just a % would be great too) so that when the time comes to pay, there’s actually nothing to do.  The app will email you a copy of your payment amount and, in a restaurant, you’ll receive the entire, detailed bill too via email which is great if you need it for accounting purposes (and it won’t get lost in your purse!).  It was a lot of fun to chat with the merchants and hear about their experiences – for the most part very positive – and I loved the enthusiasm with which many of them are embracing this cool new technology!

So those places I checked out? Many of them will be featured on the @PayPal Instagram account every day this week.  Yesterday featured the restaurant and bar at The Beverley Hotel.

The Bee's Knees - a plate at The Beverley Hotel in Toronto on eatlivetravelwrite.com
The Bee’s Knees – wildflower honeycomb, buffalo ricotta, blistered vine tomatoes and a little fleur de sel at The Beverley Hotel in Toronto.

Be sure to follow PayPal on Instagram this week to see where else I explored and got to #paypalit !  Check out the Toronto feature on the Paypal blog this week too!

Follow me on Instagram too for more photos of how I explored Toronto with PayPal!


Disclosure: I received a stipend for my expenses and compensation for writing this post and providing PayPal with photographs and captions of the places I visited. All opinions are my own and PayPal did not review this post before publication.


Canadian contests

Win a copy of Charmian Christie’s “The Messy Baker”! Closes Wednesday October 8th at 6pm EST. Details here.

Win a Kraft Canada/ Philly Canada gift basket. Closes Wednesday October 8th at 6pm EST.  Details here.


6 thoughts on “Exploring Toronto with PayPal (#paypalit)”

  1. You say in your post: “…in a restaurant, you’ll receive the entire, detailed bill too via email” – does that mean you have to provide the restaurant with an email address or is the whole thing somehow connected with the app?
    And another question: is paying in this way secure? I’m sure PayPal has it under control somehow, but phone hacking is not unknown.

    • Hi! No you don’t have to give anyone your email – it’s all tied to your PayPal account. Re: the security, as I said there is a sign in each time you open the app and you show up as your photo on the screen of the merchant so it would be fairly hard to fake being a different person. I guess it’s as secure as mobile banking which many people seem to entrust to their phones these days as well.

      • I was showing your post to a group of young women at a client office yesterday. They’ll take to this like a duck to water although, one said that the ease of use might prompt more spending than would occur if you have to open the purse and produce a card or actual money.
        They now need an app for discipline. Well yeah.

  2. It’s 2014 and we still don’t have flying cars, but I’m happy that soon I’ll be able to carry a lighter purse thanks to these developments. 🙂


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.