The spring update for Xbox 360 is in the process of rolling out to users around the world with some interesting features to note. Aside from the controversial disk format update, and a new feature to allow the Xbox 360 to go into Standby after an hour of idle time, the update that piqued my curiosity the most was the introduction of PayPal on the Xbox 360.
While the use of PayPal to renew your membership and purchase points has been available from the Xbox.com website for some time (My Xbox>Accounts>Manage Payment Options), this option has been absent from the console itself for a while. And considering the woes and worries caused by the recent PlayStation Network hack resulting in the loss of over 77 million users' personal information, it's hard to believe that the addition of this functionality was purely coincidental.
For those who don't know, PayPal is an online business that allows you to add funds to an account to pay for a number of items from a broad range of sellers on the internet. Aside from requiring you to authenticate to make a purchase over secured web connections (HTTPS/SSL), PayPal acts as a third party, or middleman between your personal financial information and a seller by allowing a monetary transfer without the seller being able to see your credit card or bank account information.
By providing Xbox Live users the ability to use a secured third party direct on the Xbox 360 as an alternative to having your personal credit card information stored on the device or online in your Live profile, you now have a more secure method of paying for video games, Microsoft Points, and renewing your Xbox Live account. This should give Xbox Live gamers a piece of mind about their XBLA purchases, and something for PSN gamers to get Sony to consider.
However, not all is lost to the PSN user. PayPal also has an option to request a PayPal debit card. This allows users of the service to access their accounts in the same way that you would use a debit card for your checking account. This provides you with a couple of useful features including the ability to have PayPal automatically email you receipts for purchases you make. It will also email you in the event that a transaction failed to go through because no funds were available. By using this feature, you give yourself an additional level of protection by only adding funds to your account when you need to, and then using your PayPal debit instead of your credit card. And if any online companies that keep your personal financial information on record are breached and your card hijacked, you will be notified of any transactions that failed to be put through instantly. Thus raising a red flag with you while preventing you from becoming one of the all too many people we read about in the news today.