A new Visa-PayPal partnership includes letting users of the online payments firm pay for transactions in the offline world where Visa contactless transactions are accepted.

PayPal hailed the deal as being “a significant step” for its customers. The firm is gaining access to Visa’s tokenisation service, starting in the US, for in-store transactions, so broadening its reach.

This arrangement will expand acceptance for PayPal accounts to all physical retail locations where Visa contactless transactions are accepted.  In return, PayPal has agreed to share data about those transactions with the credit card giant.

PayPal has been trying for some time to improve its offline capability but progress has been slow. A number of years ago it attempted to go it alone by working with retailers directly on offline payments but this deal appears an admission that such an approach did not succeed.

PayPal backed NFC technology at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, a move needed for supporting offline payments. A partnership in Europe with Vodafone, also announced in Barcelona, is part of the same strategy.

The wider issue for PayPal is extending a payments capability from the online to offline world when rivals (including Visa) are moving onto its home patch.

The second part of the deal is intended to make it easier for customers to use Visa credit and debit cards in PayPal transactions. The online firm has tended to steer customers towards topping up their account from a bank account, much to the annoyance of card firms, such as Visa.