PayPal has launched QR code shops in 15 Singapore subway stations, copying a tactic first rolled out by Tesco in South Korea.

The experiment allows commuters to buy Valentines gifts from eight retailers by scanning the QR code on their smartphone.

Unlike the UK, Singapore has full wireless access on its subways so consumers are linked straight to the e-commerce site to buy their chosen product using PayPal.

In a blog post PayPal Southeast Asia and India managing director Elias Ghanem said that Singapore is the perfect place to trial QR code payments as smartphone penetration has reached 70%. 

eBay and PayPal have been at the forefront of mobile technology, successfully promoting transactional apps alongside mobile payments.

PayPal expects to see $7bn in mobile payment volume in 2012, up from $4bn in 2011.

The main sticking point with PayPal’s QR code transactions is that most other financial and mobile companies are throwing their weight behind NFC technology.

But Ghanem suggested that the trial was more convenient than NFC as “no additional infrastructure is required for merchants, retailers and consumers.”

There have been a number of developments in the mobile payment industry in recent months and it isn’t as simple as choosing between either QR codes or NFC.

PayPal has also been busy trialling a card-free payment system in Home Depot in the US, allowing customers to pay for items using their mobile phone number and PIN.

Meanwhile mobile payment tool Square gained backing from President Obama’s re-election campaign last month.

His staff will use the hardware, which plugs into the top of smartphones, to take card donations while out on the campaign trail.

However the momentum still appears to be behind NFC.

Visa has certified its NFC payment system for use in LG, Samsung and Rim smartphones and there is a big push to make the technology prominent during the London Olympics.

What is certain is that we are likely to see many more mobile payment trials during 2012.