PayPal picks S'pore for international HQ

Online payment vendor opens software development center in the island-state to support its growing business outside of North America.

SINGAPORE--eBay-owned PayPal has opened its international headquarters and technology development center in Singapore, which will serve its global customers outside of the United States and Canada.

Speaking at the official opening here today, Scott Thompson, PayPal senior vice president and CTO said: "Singapore's well-educated population and business community offers a great environment to grow our technology and development capabilities."

The company is looking to increase its current headcount of 40 staff in the island-state. It plans to hire over 200 staff over the next five years, most of whom will be software developers.

Thompson said PayPal's international revenues in the last quarter reached US$202 million, or 43 percent of PayPal's overall business, and he is expecting that to cross the 50-percent mark in 2008.

PayPal's decision to locate its international headquarters in Asia is a good one, according to one analyst.

Claus Mortensen, IDC Asia-Pacific research manager, said in an e-mail interview: "Unlike Europe and the United States, Asia is a rather fragmented region when it comes to regulation for banking and money transactions. PayPal would need to comply with each country's regulations in order to succeed, and having its international headquarters here would make this easier."

On what PayPal would need to succeed in Asia, Mortensen said: "The challenge is to capture the Asian users and make sure that they become the payment method of choice."

So far, the boom in online communities has created opportunities for the payment vendor.

"Take the online gaming communities, for example. The game, World of Warcraft, has spawned extremely large online gaming communities around Asia and very sizable amounts of money are changing hands for [the game]. A service like PayPal would fit in extremely well in such communities," said Mortensen.

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