PayPal's incoming CEO discusses what's next for mobile, e-commerce

PayPal is building up its One Touch checkout experience, connecting the dots between native mobile app and web experiences.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---PayPal wants to be more than just a button or a transaction to make a purchase online.

The payments provider is building up to a full suite of services for consumers and merchants alike, offering an "operating system for digital commerce," according to PayPal president and CEO "designee" Dan Schulman.

"We're coming into the market at a time when the financial services industry is going through some fundamental shifts," observed Schulman during a media event, themed Commerce: Rewired, on Thursday.

Predicting we'll see the same amount of change in the next three to five years as the previous two decades, Schulman suggested this rate is driven by two main factors: the mass adoption of mobile and the blurred lines between online and offline commerce.

PayPal saw more than one billion transactions during the first quarter of 2015 - one out of three of which derived from a mobile device.

As a result, Schulman continued, online commerce is being replaced by mobile, then in-app experiences and then "in-store," meaning use mobile devices and apps to further along the purchasing process while in brick-and-mortar locations.

Bill Ready, senior vice president of global merchant and next-gen services at PayPal, concurred, adding consumers are demanding to see great experiences on mobile devices. Ready outlined this consumer mind shift over the last few years, progressing from a luxury feature ushered into the mainstream through services such as Uber and Airbnb.

"We're powering the entire checkout experience," Ready remarked. "That lets us help to guide this move to mobile commerce."

Ready championed PayPal One Click, a function allowing customers to check out from a merchant's website with a single click, as the biggest evolution of this movement in more than a decade.

PayPal extended One Touch support from native mobile apps to the Web last month. PayPal connected the dots further on Thursday, linking mobile web and mobile app sessions, promising a one click checkout experience on a mobile device even if the PayPal app isn't installed on that device.

Schulman quipped one of PayPal's "secret sauces" is its ability to scale, now serving approximately 165 million active customers and counting worldwide.

Nevertheless, Schulman repeatedly stressed PayPal is not sitting back on its brand name, instead responding to consumer and merchant trends. He noted PayPal has been spending the last few years completely revamping its platform as the financial and payments industries undergoing a "fundamental rewiring" as money becomes digitized. (Schulman clarified that he wasn't blankly stating cash is dead -- although he predicted "checks are going away.")

"The only thing we focus on is digital and mobile payments. We're not doing this for anything else," Schulman summed up.

EBay confirmed plans to spin off its mobile payments subsidiary into a separate publicly traded company last September following months of speculation -- much of which came as a result of some very public criticism from shareholder and prominent financier Carl Icahn.

Amid the leadership shuffle at both eBay and PayPal, Schulman, the former group president of enterprise growth at American Express, was pegged to become CEO of PayPal.

PayPal continues to move full speed ahead toward independence, following up with last week's announcement that it intends to trade as a standalone company on the Nasdaq stock exchange under its old ticker symbol, "PYPL."

eBay already trades under the company name on the Nasdaq. The separation is expected to wrap up during the second half of 2015.

"We enter into that IPO with a considerable number of strengths," Schulman argued, pointing toward roughly $8 billion in revenue last year alone.

Earlier this week, PayPal strengthened ties with personal and SMB financial software maker Intuit through a new synchronization app linking up multiple payment channels across mobile, e-commerce and point of sale.

The app enables users to import PayPal sales and transaction data automatically into QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks also hosts integrations with other payment platforms, such as Square, on top of Intuit's own in-house payment processing service.

Schulman reiterated PayPal's growing commitment to be more agnostic across operating systems, devices and other payments channels.

"There are too many people in the world today that live on the financial margins, and technology could move them into the mainstream," Schulman concluded. "We should strive for nothing less than democratize the management of money."

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