Company Spotlight

Discover, PayPal Make Merchant Acquiring Momentum

On August 22, 2012, Discover and PayPal announced a partnership that positioned the two entities as real threats to the established payments landscape.

Now, just eight months later, we’re starting to see the fruits of that partnership, as Discover’s offline PayPal operating rules officially came into effect just a few short weeks ago.

How far have Discover and PayPal come in their partnership to this point, and what are they planning for the rest of 2013 and beyond? spoke with Joby Orlowsky, vice president, strategic initiatives at Discover, to learn about the two payments giants’ complimentary strengths, and the moves they’re making towards mass acceptance and innovation.

According to Orlowsky, there are already 250,000 merchant outlets able to accept PayPal transactions, and that number figures to surpass two million by the end of the year. That’s thanks in part to the recent news Discover and PayPal made by revealing that they’ve already signed 50 merchant acquirers to agreements that will allow merchants to process PayPal payments in-store.

Orlowsky said reaching such a number just eight months after the initial partnership announcement is a “major milestone” for both PayPal and Discover alike.

“Some of the big names you already know of, Vantiv, WorldPay, Global Payments, First American Payment Systems, Heartland, TSYS, and more than 40 others have already signed up. So there’s clearly a groundswell of support in the acquirer world for this program rolling out,” he said.

“We don’t see the trajectory slowing down any time, and we’re having great conversations with the remaining acquirers in the industry.”

Orlowsky credited part of that success to what he termed as “complementary strengths” that the two payments giants can leverage through their partnership. Rather than letting PayPal “ride on its rails,” as the popular expression goes, Orlowsky emphasized that Discover and PayPal are both reaping plenty of rewards form their arrangement.

“This partnership works well because each company really complements each other,” he said. “PayPal is a very strong brand: very strong online and very strong in security. And Discover brings a lot of those things to the forefront as well, but as PayPal knows, we’ve already built a successful payments business: the third largest global payment network in the world.”

He also emphasized PayPal’s work in the digital wallet space, and noted that Discover and PayPal are uniquely positioned to take the lead in an industry with a seemingly never-ending list of players, but no real defined favorite to this point.

“PayPal is bringing the digital wallet, a new technology, to the traditional store front. Traditionally, this type of transaction has only been online, and we truly feel that Discover and PayPal, as a collective, are the closest to being able to bring together … what consumers and merchants ultimately want,” Orlowsky said.

“We’ve heard many other attempting to put together mobile wallets into the brick-and-mortar space, but we feel this is really the only program that’s ongoing and rolling out nationally, and the only one that brings the size and scale we believe necessary to succeed.”

To hear more Orlowsky on Discover’s partnership with PayPal and their upcoming projects, listen to the full podcast below.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.

Joby Orlowsky
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
Discover Network

Joby Orlowsky is Vice President, Strategic Initiatives of Discover Network. In this role, he is responsible for seeking out business opportunities and building strategic partner relationships primarily in the alternative payments space. He also works with strategic partners to leverage Discover’s payment services assets to help them best meet their strategic objective, and brings solutions to the market that help drive volume and revenue for Discover.

Previously, Mr. Orlowsky was responsible for the integration of Diners Club International into Discover when it was purchased from Citi in 2008, as well as product development and marketing activities within Diners Club. Prior to assuming that role, Mr. Orlowsky was Vice President of Acceptance, Analytics & Decision Support at Discover Network, a business unit of Discover Financial Services. In this role at Discover, Mr. Orlowsky was responsible for all marketing strategy and execution related to the acquisition, lifecycle management and retention of merchant and acquirer relationships. In addition, responsibility for all data structures and analysis for Discover Network falls under his span of control. As one of the four major payment networks in the United States, Discover Network is actively driving growth in the payment industry and increasing the utilization of the network to increase value to merchants, acquirers and cardmembers. Additionally, Discover Network is a leader in applying relevant information to support growth in the payments arena and deliver value to our constituents.

Mr. Orlowsky began his career in 1989 at Household International, now a division of HSBC, where he held multiple functional responsibilities in finance, marketing and operations. Since joining Discover in 1996, Mr. Orlowsky has held positions in the issuing and network business units of Discover.

He holds a BS in Finance from the University of Iowa and his MBA in Marketing from DePaul University.

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