In Depth

Braintree’s Big Bet On Mobile Pays Off

Two years ago, PayPal acquired Braintree, yesterday it announced that Braintree is poised to cross $50B in payments volume with 154M customer accounts on file. MPD CEO Karen Webster caught up with Braintree CEO Bill Ready for a discussion in which he looked back on his company’s most recent — and successful —- journey.

“At the time that we announced the PayPal/Braintree deal [in 2013],one of the things I was very public about…was that this wasn’t a typical acquisition, where the management team and I were going to ride off into the sunset shortly after the deal closed. Rather, we were doing [the acquisition] because we really believed in the vision we had for what mobile commerce could be – and PayPal shared that vision. It was the beginning of our next chapter.”

That’s Bill Ready, Braintree CEO, aka PayPal SVP and Head of Global Product.

In September of 2013, Braintree was a pretty successful venture – one of only 8 companies with a market valuation in the billion dollar range. That valuation was the result of raking in $12 billion in payments volume across 40 markets, having some pretty impressive marquis names as clients including Uber and Airbnb, a P2P platform (Venmo) that was popular enough to become a verb and a mobile buying platform (Venmo Touch) that was just starting to catch fire.

What a difference two years makes.

From $12 billion in annual volume when Braintree first joined with PayPal, the company is now operating at north of $50 billion. That’s more than a fourfold increase in a span of two years, and a volume that Ready says that few other players — especially other new entrants in the payments space — have achieved.

Two years ago, Braintree had 56.5M cards on file; today it has 154M.

The Venmo Touch experience has morphed too. B.P. (Before PayPal), Venmo Touch was the first one-touch mobile buying experience to hit the market, allowing a consumer to pay in a single touch across multiple apps on their mobile device, Braintree, says Ready, “was ready to take that [experience] to the world,” and work hard to make it the default way that consumers buy on their mobile devices.

A.P. (After PayPal) that’s a plan now well underway.

Vemno Touch has become PayPal One Touch and it enables one-touch checkout on any digital platform – mobile app, mobile browser and desktop. Its impact on mobile conversion, Ready says, is significant, giving merchants 50 percent or more lift at checkout.

More important, Ready believes that One Touch is changing how consumers shop.

The consumer that once only used the mobile device to find stuff that they’d buy later, he says, is now buying on those devices.

Which, as Ready sees it, is the way it should be since more than half of all shopping is initiated in some way via those devices.

[pullquote]people aren’t willing to type in a bunch of information on a tiny little touchscreen[/pullquote]

Conversion on mobile is a hassle since “people aren’t willing to type in a bunch of information on a tiny little touchscreen.” But One Touch changes all of that – shortening the final checkout experience from about 4 minutes when a consumer has to manually input her payment information on a mobile device and two minutes on average on a laptop, to a single second.

But as Ready sees it, that’s just the tip of Braintree’s digital payments iceberg. “The real story,” Ready says “is the breadth by which we’ve taken One Touch.”

One Touch, Ready emphasized, is a technology that was built to address a phenomenon that he believes a lot of people haven’t yet recognized – that consumers, by and large, always have a mobile device handy and rely on it to complete tasks during those spare moments in time. That, Ready believes, fosters “a fundamental change in human behavior.”

And what has driven Braintree’s commitment to mash up the One Touch platform capabilities with the PayPal retail and payments assets so that retailers can “wrap [the One Touch] experience around a lot of their own distinct value propositions and bring them to life in a digital world.”

Today, Braintree touches a lot of them, too. One Touch is now available at more than 50 percent of the Internet Retailer 500 in addition to the hundreds of thousands of merchants within the PayPal and Braintree networks.

[pullquote]change the way people buy and sell on mobile[/pullquote]

All part of the plan to “change the way people buy and sell on mobile,” Ready emphasized.

Including in store, something that was evident in the announcement Macy’s made earlier in the week about its embrace of One Touch across all of its channels — mobile, online and in-store – an omnichannel first.

Because mobile use in-store has become more retailer-driven and customer focused, Ready believes that “it’s not…about moving swipes to taps.” Instead, he explained, they key for Braintree in building One Touch with PayPal, was to allow retailers to adapt its flexible technology platform.  One that simply and directly drives a buying experience in-store that eliminates friction for consumers and merchants.

Something that prompted Webster to riff on the degree to which many underestimate the importance of consumer behavior in igniting mobile payments – or not. She asked Ready whether, since consumers know well how to “checkout” online and also know how to use PayPal after all of the years it’s been in market, using One Touch in the PayPal app or the retailer’s app in the physical store to checkout is an easier mobile leap for consumers to make to mobile payments.

That very premise, notes Ready, is what Braintree had in mind when it first hooked up with PayPal two years ago.

He said that a lot of people outside the company thought that Braintree, because it was growing so quickly at the time, ought to hold off on diving into such a large endeavor. But the view inside of Braintree, explains Ready, was that there was a “finite window to really define the way commerce was going to happen on mobile everywhere,” and to do so, the company needed to be able to reach both sides of the network — consumers and merchants — at scale.

“There are other brands that are known on both sides of the network, or players that play to scale on one or the other,” continues Ready, “but in terms of having direct connection to consumers and merchants, at scale, around the world — everything from the push of a button all the way through to fulfillment of the payment — it just doesn’t exist in other places.”

Braintree realized that they could achieve that goal faster and better inside of PayPal.

And, two years later, the company has “made huge strides” toward that goal, concludes Ready.

Although, he also says, that the “best is yet to come.”

the best is yet to come."

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Financial Invisibles Report

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