|Founded||Palo Alto, California (June 1998)|
|Headquarters||San Jose, California, U.S.|
|Key people||Dan Schulman, President|
|Revenue||US$6.6 billion (2013)|
|Written in||C++, Java (as Node.js)|
|Alexa rank||38 (September 2014[update])|
PayPal is an American, international digital wallet based e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. Online money transfers serve as electronic alternatives to paying with traditional paper methods, such as checks and money orders.
PayPal is one of the world's largest internet payment companies. The company operates as an acquirer, performing payment processing for online vendors, auction sites and other commercial users, for which it charges a fee.
Established in 1998, PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) had its IPO in 2002, and became a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay later that year. In 2013, PayPal moved $180 billion in 26 currencies across 193 nations, generating a total revenue of $6.6 billion (41% of eBay’s total profits). In 2014, eBay announced plans to spin-off PayPal into an independent company the following year.
PayPal was initially established in December 1998 as Confinity,a company that developed security software for handheld devicesfounded by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, and Ken Howery. PayPal was developed and launched as a money transfer service at Confinity in 1999.
In March 2000, Confinity merged with X.com, an online banking company founded by Elon Musk. Musk was optimistic about the future success of the money transfer business Confinity was developing. Musk and then-president and CEO of X.com, Bill Harris, disagreed on this point and Harris left the company in May 2000. In October of that year, Musk made the decision that X.com would terminate its other internet banking operations and focus on the PayPal money service. The X.com company was then renamed PayPal in 2001, and expanded rapidly throughout the year until company executives decided to take PayPal public in 2002. as listed under the ticker NASDAQ: PYPL at $13 per share and ended up generating over $61 million.
Shortly after PayPal's IPO, the company was acquired by eBay in July 2002 for $1.5 billion. More than 70 percent of all eBay auctions accepted PayPal payments, and roughly 1 in 4 closed auction listings were transacted via PayPal. PayPal became the payment method used by a majority of eBay users (it was also the default choice), and the service competed with eBay's subsidiary Billpoint, as well as Citibank's c2it, Yahoo!'s PayDirect, Google Checkout, and Western Union's BidPay service, all of which closed in subsequent years.
PayPal acquired the VeriSign payment solution in 2005 to expand its e-commerce business and provide added security support. In 2007, PayPal announced a partnership with MasterCard that led to the development and launch of the PayPal Secure Card service, a software that allows customers to make payments on websites that do not accept PayPal directly by generating a unique, single-use MasterCard number for each checkout. By the end of 2007, the company generated $1.8 billion in revenue.
In January 2008, PayPal acquired Fraud Sciences, a privately held Israeli start-up company with expertise in online risk tools, for $169 million, in order to enhance PayPal's proprietary fraud management systems. In November 2008, the company acquired Bill Me Later, an online payments company offering transactional credit at over 9000 online merchants in the US. PayPal revenues for Q1 2009 were $643 million, up 11 percent year over year. 42 percent of revenues in Q1 2009 were from international markets. PayPal's Total Payment Volume (TPV), the total value of transactions in Q1 2009 was nearly $16 billion, up 10 percent year over year.
By 2010, PayPal had over 100 million active user accounts in 190 markets through 25 different currencies. In July 2011, fourteen alleged members of the Anonymous hacktivist group were charged with attempting to disrupt PayPal's operations. The denial of service attacks occurred in December 2010, after PayPal stopped processing donations to Wikileaks. On December 5, 2013, 13 of the PayPal 14 plead guilty to misdemeanor and felony charges related to the attacks.
The company continued to focus on international growth and growth of its Merchant Services division, providing e-payments for retailers on eBay. In 2011, PayPal announced that it would begin moving its business offline so that customers can make payments via PayPal in stores. In August 2012, the company announced its partnership with Discover Card to allow PayPal payments to be made at any of the 7 million stores in Discover Card's network. By the end of 2012, PayPal's total payment volume processed was US$145 billion. and accounted for 40% of eBay's revenue, amounting to US$1.37 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
In 2013, PayPal acquired IronPearl, a Palo Alto startup offering engagement software, and Braintree, a Chicago-based payment gateway, to further product development and mobile services. In June 2014 David Marcus announced he was leaving his role as PayPal President; Marcus joined PayPal in August 2011 after its acquisition of Zong, of which he was the founder and CEO. David Marcus succeeded Scott Thompson as president, who left the role to join Yahoo. PayPal announced that Marcus would be succeeded by Dan Schulman, who previously served as CEO of Virgin Mobile and vice president of American Express.
It was announced on September 30, 2014, that eBay would spin off PayPal into a separate publicly traded company, a move that was demanded already in 2013 by activist hedge fund magnate Carl Icahn. The spin-off is expected to be completed sometime in second half of 2015. PayPal President Dan Schulman was elected to serve as the company's CEO.
PayPal's corporate headquarters are located in San Jose, California, at eBay's North First Street satellite office campus. The company's operations center is located in Omaha, Nebraska, which opened in 1999. Since July 2007, PayPal has operated across the European Union as a Luxembourg-based bank. The PayPal European headquarters are located in Luxembourg and the international headquarters are in Singapore. PayPal opened a technology center in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2006, and a software development center in Chennai, India in 2007. In October 2007, PayPal opened a data service office on the north side of Austin, Texas, and also opened a second operations center in La Vista, Nebraska that same year.
PayPal's services allow people to make financial transactions online by granting the ability to transfer funds electronically between individuals and businesses. Through PayPal, users can send or receive payments for online auctions on websites like eBay, purchase or sell goods and services, or donate money or receive donations. It is not required to have a PayPal account to use the company's services.
PayPal launched Student Accounts for teens in August 2009, allowing parents to set up a student account, transfer money into it, and obtain a debit card for student use. The program provides tools to teach teens how to spend money wisely and take responsibility for their actions. In November 2009, PayPal opened its platform, allowing other services to get access to its code and to use its infrastructure in order to enable peer-to-peer online transactions.
The PayPal app is available online or at the iTunes App Store and Google Play. One year after acquiring Braintree, PayPal introduced its "One Touch" service which allows users to pay with a one-touch option on participating merchants websites or apps.
PayPal launched an updated app for iOS and Android in 2013 that expanded its mobile app capabilities by allowing users to search for local shops and restaurants that accept PayPal payments, order ahead at participating venues, and offering a "Bill Me Later" option that allows users to shop or eat and be forwarded a bill at a later time.
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.
The biggest challenge in 2000 remained PayPal's unsustainable business model. Initially, PayPal offered its service with lower cost, planning to earn interest on funds in users' PayPal accounts (i.e., the "float"). However, most recipients withdrew their funds immediately. Furthermore, a large majority of senders funded their payments using credit cards, which cost PayPal roughly 2% of payment value, rather than relying on much less with business accounts qualified for seller protection against losses due to chargebacks, provided that they complied with reimbursement policies (e.g., retaining traceable proof of shipping to a confirmed address or requiring a signature receipt for items valued over $250).
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 reorganization 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 enroll online merchants outside the eBay auction community, including:
In late March 2010, new Japanese banking regulations forced PayPal Japan to suspend the ability of personal account holders registered in Japan from sending or receiving money between individuals and as a result are now subject to PayPal's business fees on all transactions.
As of March 2011, PayPal made changes to the User Agreement for Indian users to comply with Reserve Bank of India regulations. The per transaction limit had been set to USD $3,000, since October 14, 2011. However, on July 29, 2013 PayPal has increased the per transaction limit to USD $10,000. This brings the per transaction limit for India in line with the restrictions imposed by PayPal on most other countries.
PayPal has disabled sending and receiving personal payments in India, thus forcing all recipients to pay a transaction fee.
PayPal plans to make India an incubation center for the company's employee engagement policies. In 2012, PayPal hired 120 people for its offices in Chennai and Bangalore.
Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, has stated that PayPal is not a bank because it does not engage in fractional-reserve banking. Rather, PayPal's funds that have not been disbursed are kept in commercial interest-bearing checking accounts. In the United States, PayPal is licensed as a money transmitter on a state-by-state basis. PayPal is not classified as a bank in the United States, though the company is subject to some of the rules and regulations governing the financial industry including Regulation E consumer protections and the USA PATRIOT Act.
In the United States, PayPal is not directly regulated by the US federal government because it serves as a payment intermediary. PayPal is regulated as a money transmitter, 31 C.F.R. 1010.100(ff)(5). PayPal is also subject to state regulation, but state laws vary, as do their definitions of banks, narrow banks, money services businesses and money transmitters. The most analogous regulatory source of law for PayPal transactions comes from P2P payments using credit and debit cards. Ordinarily, a credit card transaction, specifically the relationship between the issuing bank and the cardholder, is governed by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1667f as implemented by Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. 226, (TILA/Z). TILA/Z requires specific procedures for billing errors, dispute resolution and limits cardholder liability for unauthorized charges. Similarly, the legal relationship between a debit cardholder and the issuing bank is regulated by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) 15 U.S.C. §§ 1693-1693r, as implemented by Regulation E, 12 C.F.R. 205, (EFTA/E). EFTA/E is directed at consumer protection and provides strict error resolution procedures. However, because PayPal is a payment intermediary and not otherwise regulated directly, TILA/Z and EFTA/E do not operate exactly as written once the credit/debit card transaction occurs via PayPal. Basically, unless a PayPal transaction is funded with a credit card, the consumer has no recourse in the event of fraud by the seller.
In 2007, PayPal Europe was granted a Luxembourg banking license, which, under European Union law, allows it to conduct banking business throughout the EU. It is therefore regulated as a bank by Luxembourg's banking supervisory authority, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF). All of the company's European accounts were transferred to PayPal's bank in Luxembourg in July 2007. Prior to this move, PayPal had been registered in the United Kingdom as PayPal (Europe) Ltd, an entity which was licensed as an Electronic Money Issuer with the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) from 2004. This ceased in 2007, when the company moved to Luxembourg.
In India, as of January 2010, PayPal has no cross-border money transfer authorization. In The New York Times article "India's Central Bank Stops Some PayPal Services", Reserve Bank of India spokesman Alpana Killawalla stated: "Providers of cross-border money transfer service need prior authorization from the Reserve Bank under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, PayPal does not have our authorization." PayPal is not listed in the "Certificates of Authorisation issued by the Reserve Bank of India under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 for Setting up and Operating Payment System in India". PaisaPay is an Indian sister service to PayPal, and is also owned by eBay. PaisaPay makes possible payments from abroad by PayPal account holders to Indian sellers on eBay.in.
The PayPal Buyer Protection Policy states that the customer may file a buyer complaint within 180 days (changed from 45 days 14th June 2014) if he or she did not receive an item or if the item he or she purchased was significantly not as described. If the buyer used a credit card, he or she might get a refund via chargeback from his or her credit-card company. However, in the UK, where such a purchaser is entitled to specific statutory protections (that the credit card company is a second party to the purchase and is therefore equally liable in law if the other party defaults or goes into liquidation) under Section 75 Consumer Credit Act 1979, the purchaser loses this legal protection if the card payment is processed via PayPal.
According to PayPal, it protects sellers in a limited fashion via the Seller Protection Policy. In general the Seller Protection Policy is intended to protect the seller from certain kinds of chargebacks or complaints if seller meets certain conditions including proof of delivery to the buyer. PayPal states the Seller Protection Policy is "designed to protect sellers against claims by buyers of unauthorized payments and against claims of non-receipt of any merchandise." The policy includes a list of "Exclusions" which itself includes "Intangible goods," "Claims for receipt of goods 'not as described'" and "Total reversals over the annual limit." There are also other restrictions in terms of the sale itself, the payment method and the destination country the item is shipped to (simply having a tracking mechanism is not sufficient to guarantee the Seller Protection Policy is in effect). The PayPal Seller Protection Policy does not provide the additional consumer protection afforded by UK consumer legislation (e.g., Sale of Goods Act) and in addition it cannot be enforced in the Courts because PayPal operates from Luxembourg, outside all three of the UK legal jurisdictions.
In early 2006, PayPal introduced an optional security key as an additional precaution against fraud. A user account tied to a security key has a modified login process. The account holder enters his or her login ID and password as normal, but is then prompted to enter a six-digit code provided by a credit card sized hardware security key or a text message sent to the account holder's mobile phone. For convenience, the user may append the code generated by the hardware key to his or her password in the login screen. This way he or she is not prompted for it on another page. This method is required for some services, such as when using PayPal through the eBay application on iPhone.
This two-factor authentication is intended to make it difficult for an account to be compromised by a malicious third party without access to the physical security key, although it does not prevent so-called Man in the Browser (MITB) attacks. However, the user (or malicious third party) can alternatively authenticate by providing the credit card or bank account number listed on his or her account. Thus the PayPal implementation does not offer the security of true two-factor authentication.
It is also possible to use a mobile phone to receive an MTAN (Mobile Transaction Authentication Number) via SMS. Use of a security code that is sent to the account holder's mobile phone is currently free.
As early as 2001, PayPal had substantial problems with online fraud, especially international hackers who were hacking into PayPal accounts and transferring small amounts of money out of multiple accounts. Standard solutions for merchant and banking fraud might use government criminal sanctions to pursue the fraudsters. But with PayPal losing millions of dollars each month to fraud, while experiencing difficulties with using the FBI to pursue cases of international fraud, PayPal developed a private solution: a "fraud monitoring system that used artificial intelligence to detect potentially fraudulent transactions. ... Rather than treating the problem of fraud as a legal problem, the company treated it as a risk management one."
In 2003, PayPal voluntarily ceased serving as a payment intermediary between gambling websites and their online customers. At the time of this cessation it was the largest payment processor for online gambling transactions. In 2010, PayPal resumed accepting such transactions, but only in those countries where online gambling is legal, and only for sites which are properly licensed to operate in said jurisdictions.
If an account is subject to fraud or unauthorized use, PayPal puts the "Limited Access" designation on the account. PayPal has had several notable cases in which the company has frozen the account of users such as Richard Kyanka, owner of the website Something Awful, in September 2005, Cryptome in March 2010, or April Winchell, the owner of Regretsy, in December 2011. The account was reinstated, PayPal apologized and donated to her cause.
In September 2010, PayPal froze the account of Markus Persson, developer of independent video game Minecraft. Persson stated publicly that he had not received a clear explanation of why the account was frozen, and that PayPal was threatening to keep the money if they found anything wrong. His account contained around €600,000.
PayPal's partner MasterCard ceased taking donations to WikiLeaks in 2010, and PayPal also suspended, and later permanently restricted, payments to the website after the U.S. State Department deemed WikiLeaks activities as illegal. Online supporters and activists for WikiLeaks retaliated by subjecting PayPal and MasterCard, along with other companies, to coordinated cyber attacks.
As of December 2011, PayPal is involved in several class-action lawsuits in a controversy over their policy of holding 30% of vendor transactions for 90 days, which PayPal argues is intended to make funds available to customers in the event that a transaction is found to be fraudulent; to provide PayPal the funds to refund the seller. There is also criticism about the perceived arbitrariness of the 90-day waiting period, when customers have only 45 days to file a claim against a seller, and complaints about the fact that PayPal has not paid interest on the funds held back.
In May 2013, PayPal declined to pay a reward offered in its Bug Bounty Program to a 17 year old German student who discovered a Cross-site scripting flaw on its site. The company took the position that because the student was under 18 years old he did not qualify to participate in the program in violation of the program's terms and conditions.
In August 2013, entrepreneurs who had used PayPal to collect the funds they raised on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo reported difficulty in being able to withdraw the money they have raised. Most notable victims are Ouya, GlassUp (a rival to Google Glass) and Mailpile.
In March 2002, two PayPal account holders separately sued the company for alleged violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) and California law. Most of the allegations concerned PayPal's dispute resolution procedures. The two lawsuits were merged into one class action lawsuit (In re: PayPal litigation). An informal settlement was reached in November 2003, and a formal settlement was signed on June 11, 2004. The settlement requires that PayPal change its business practices (including changing its dispute resolution procedures to make them EFTA-compliant), as well as making a US$9.25 million payment to members of the class. PayPal denied any wrongdoing.
In June 2003, Stamps.com filed a lawsuit against PayPal and eBay claiming breach of contract, breach of the implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing, and interference with contract, among other claims. In a 2002 license agreement, Stamps.com and PayPal agreed that Stamps.com technology would be made available to allow PayPal users to buy and print postage online from their PayPal accounts. Stamps.com claimed that PayPal did not live up to its contractual obligations and accused eBay of interfering with PayPal and Stamps.com's agreement, hence Stamp.com's reasoning for including eBay in the suit.
Craig Comb and two others filed a class action against PayPal in Craig Comb, et al. v. PayPal, Inc.. They sued, alleging illegal misappropriation of customer accounts and detailed their customer service experiences, including freezing deposited funds for up to 180 days until disputes were resolved by PayPal. PayPal argued that the plaintiffs were required to arbitrate their disputes under the American Arbitration Association's Commercial Arbitration Rules. The court ruled against PayPal, stating that "the User Agreement and arbitration clause are substantively unconscionable under California law."
In September 2002, Bank One Corporation sued PayPal for allegedly infringing its cardless payment system patents. The following year, PayPal countersued, claiming that Bank One's online bill-payment system was an infringement against PayPal's online bill-payment patent, issued in 1998. The two companies agreed on a settlement in October 2003.
In November 2003, AT&T Corporation filed suit against eBay and PayPal claiming that their payment systems infringed an AT&T patent, filed in 1991 and granted in 1994. The case was settled out of court the following month, with the terms of the settlement undisclosed.
In June 2011, PayPal and Israel Credit Cards–Cal Ltd. were sued for NIS 16 million. The claimants accused PayPal of deliberately failing to notify its customers that ICC-Cal was illegally charging them for currency conversion fees.
PayPal gripe site Paypalsucks.com ranked third on a Forbes Magazine listing of "Top Corporate Hate Web Sites" in 2005 based on "hostility" and "entertainment value" of web forum postings and other criteria.
In conjunction with the SETI Institute, PayPal is researching the development of a program to enable financial transactions for people in space. The program would be used by space tourists and astronauts, and would also be used in space hotels, which are in the planning stages of development.
A NIS 16 million lawsuit was filed yesterday with the Tel Aviv District Court against Israel Credit Cards-Cal Ltd. (ICC-Cal) (Visa) and PayPal Inc., and the claimants have asked the court to recognize it as a class-action suit.
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