- PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American multinational financial technology company operating an online payments system in the majority of countries that support online money transfers, and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods such as checks and money orders.
- The company operates as a Payment Processor for online vendors, auction sites and many other commercial users, for which it charges a fee.
- Established in 1998 as Confinity, PayPal went public through an IPO in 2002. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay later that year, valued at $1.5 billion.
- In 2015 eBay spun off PayPal to its shareholders, and PayPal became an independent company again.The company was ranked 143rd on the 2022 Fortune 500 of the largest United States corporations by revenue.
- PayPal was originally established byMax Levchin, Peter Thiel, and Luke Nosek in December 1998 as Confinity, a company that developed security software for hand-held devices. Having had no success with that business model, however, it switched its focus to a digital wallet.
- The first version of the PayPal electronic payments system was launched in 1999. In March 2000, Confinity merged with x.com, an online financial services company founded in March 1999 by Elon Musk, Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne, and Ed Ho.
- Musk was optimistic about the future success of the money transfer business Confinity was developing. Musk and Bill Harris, then-president and CEO of X.com, disagreed about the potential future success of the money transfer business and Harris left the company in May 2000.
- In October of that year, Musk decided that X.com would terminate its other internet banking operations and focus on PayPal. That same month, Elon Musk was replaced by Peter Thiel as CEO of X.com, which was renamed PayPal in 2001 and went public in 2002. PayPal’s IPO listed under the ticker PYPL at $13 per share and generated over $61 million.
Learn More How Paypal Became the Internet’s Payment System
PayPal’s success in users and volumes was the product of a three-phase strategy described by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman: “First, PayPal focused on expanding its service among eBay users in the US. Second, we began expanding PayPal to eBay’s international sites. And third, we started to build PayPal’s business off eBay.”
Business Phase 1
In the first phase, payment volumes were coming mostly from the eBay auction website. The system was very attractive to auction sellers, most of which were individuals or small businesses that were unable to accept credit cards, and for consumers as well.
In fact, many sellers could not qualify for a credit card Merchant account because they lacked a commercial credit history.
The service also appealed to auction buyers because they could fund PayPal accounts using credit cards or bank account balances, without divulging credit card numbers to unknown sellers. PayPal employed an aggressive marketing campaign to accelerate its growth, depositing $10 in new users’ PayPal accounts.
Learn How did Paypal Get So Big
Business Phase 2
Until 2000, PayPal’s strategy was to earn interest on funds in PayPal accounts. However, most recipients of PayPal credits withdrew funds immediately.
Also, many senders funded their payments using credit cards, which cost PayPal roughly 2% of payment value per transaction.
To solve this problem, PayPal tailored its product to cater more to business accounts. Instead of relying on interests earned from deposited funds, PayPal started relying on earnings from service charges.
They offered seller protection to PayPal account holders, provided that they comply with reimbursement policies. For example, PayPal merchants are either required to retain a traceable proof of shipping to a confirmed address or to provide a signed receipt for items valued over $750.
Business Phase 3
After fine-tuning PayPal’s business model and increasing its domestic and international penetration on eBay, PayPal started its off-eBay strategy. This was based on developing stronger growth in active users by adding users across multiple platforms, despite the slowdown in on-eBay growth and low-single-digit user growth on the eBay site.
A late 2003 reorganisation created a new business unit within PayPal—Merchant Services—to provide payment solutions to small and large e-commerce merchants outside the eBay auction community. Starting in the second half of 2004, PayPal Merchant Services unveiled several initiatives to enrol online merchants outside the eBay auction community, including :
- Lowering its transaction fee for high-volume merchants from 2.2% to 1.9% (while increasing the monthly transaction volume required to qualify for the lowest fee to $100,000)
- Encouraging its users to recruit non-eBay merchants by increasing its referral bonus to a maximum of $1,000 (versus the previous $100 cap)
- Persuading credit card gateway providers, including CyberSource and Retail Decisions USA, to include PayPal among their offerings to online merchants.
- Hiring a new sales force to acquire large merchants such as Dell, Apple’s iTunes, and Yahoo! Stores, which hosted thousands of online merchants
- Reducing fees for online music purchases and other “Micropayments”
- Launching PayPal Mobile, which allowed users to make payments using text messaging on their cell phones
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