Merchant Innovation

PayPal And Celebrating The Wonders Of Friendship

Friendship is one of life’s great pleasures, even if it does get the short end of the stick on occasion compared to romantic love. And love certainly has done wonderful things — the Taj Mahal is very impressive, Shakespeare’s sonnets are English language classics and, were it not for love-gone-wrong, there were be almost no pop songs on the planet Earth.

But friendship deserves more than just an honorable mention.

Woodrow Wilson famously said, “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit,” Aristotle noted.

And here’s history’s greatest mind, Oprah Winfrey, on the topic: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

Apart from being loyal, long-term and possibly the cement that holds the world together, friendship has produced some pretty spectacular things.

The American frontier might never have been discovered but for America’s first road trip undertaken by buddies Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Friendship pushed the cause of desegregation forward in the 1950s when Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood’s biggest star, refused to frequent the hottest nightclub in town, the Mocambo, until it would book her friend Ella Fitzgerald.

Friendship has been a key lever in moving progress forward, even in payments, commerce and technology. If two guys named Steve (Jobs and Wozniak) hadn’t become friends in the 1970s, you might still be using a flip phone today. Without friendship, Burning Man and LSD, Yahoo! could well have remained the method we all used to search the internet, because Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page would not have created the sort of lifetime bond — and internet-shaping technology (Google) — that can only be formed on the beach. And, if Max Levchin and Peter Thiel had never hit it off — or if they had hit it off, but had collectively hated Elon Musk’s guts — there would be no PayPal today.

Given that friendship and teamwork held such an extraordinarily strong role in making PayPal what it is today, perhaps it is not surprising that the firm will be actively celebrating Friendship Day tomorrow (August 6). This year, the company is making it easy to send a card to the people who mean the most to you.

And also some money — because they’re still PayPal.

But, quite frankly, you probably owe some of those friends of yours some money. Perhaps you promised you’d hit someone back for that taco, but then sort of forgot. Maybe you said you were totally going to split that wedding present but somehow it slipped your mind that you owe someone for 50 percent of a crystal punch bowl. Because, as PayPal’s latest data on the subject indicates, friends exist to support us when we are down, give us good advice and hand us money on the occasions when we forget our wallets. PayPal found that 84 percent of Americans have repaid a friend or family member for something they owed. Statistically, everyone owes a least one someone

PayPal found that 84 percent of Americans have repaid a friend or family member for something they owed. Statistically, everyone owes a least one someone for something. And we are not borrowing trivial sums of money from each other, either. On average, Americans pay friends back almost 35 times a year, to the tune of nearly $5,000 per year in aggregate.

Plus, even if you don’t owe someone a formal debt, perhaps someone helped you move, or is having a bad day and could really use a pedicure — or an hour or two at the shooting range, depending on their interests. As Homer Simpson famously observed,“Money can be used for goods and services,” which means sometimes the best way to say “I like you” is with a small infusion of cash…or maybe a larger one that says, “You’re great. Go buy yourself something pretty.”

And person-to-person (P2P) payments have made it easy to send a monetarily infused message of encouragement. According to PayPal’s data, nearly 40 percent of Americans send their friends small sums of money when they aren’t expecting it.

“More than half of the time, these ‘penny pokes’ are to say thank you or to cheer their friend up,” PayPal noted in a blog post.

So, in honor of Friendship Day, PayPal is making it easy to send a “penny poke” or repay a debt — and also say “thanks for being my friend” — by offering a series of unique greeting cards for friends and family as part of a digital gifting experience that celebrates friendship.

Owe someone money for dinner? Try the “We have great taste in friends and expensive taste in restaurants” card. Just want to tell someone you like him or her? Send a card with a picture of an ice cream cone that reads, “Just because.”

Not sure how to value friendship or all the little things friends do to make themselves invaluable — and thus unsure of how to tip this Friendship Day?

It’s OK, because PayPal has also crowdsourced this question to figure out how exactly people would put a price tag on the most special and sacred elements of friendship.

“Overwhelmingly, Americans most value the friend who sets them up with their husband or wife, with matchmaking valued at $4.4 million — enough to buy two Lamborghinis!” said PayPal. “Looking to pay homage to the friend who helped you move? That’ll be $4,284 — enough to send your friend to Hawaii for a week (and have enough left over to buy yourself a new couch)… And Americans of all ages agreed that the friend who throws them a surprise birthday party earns just over $1,000 in friendship credit.”

Everyone needs a friend. Were it not for friendship, we would not live in a world that’s nearly as nice — or as technologically advanced — as we do today. So, did someone help you move recently? Removed all the pictures of your ex from your social media accounts so you would never have to see his stupid, cheating face again? Went to Starbucks and brought you your favorite drink, even though your favorite drink isn’t on the menu and takes a full ten minutes to explain to the barista? Went to do CrossFit at the gym with you, even though his favorite workout is playing Call of Duty and he herniated a disk five minutes in but still did the whole, horrible workout?

Consider sending a card and sending some digital cash. Because your friend would never complain — but that doesn’t mean he or she wouldn’t like an extra ice cream cone.

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Latest Insights: 

The Payments 2022 Study: Building A High-Performance Payments Team For Fraud Detection, a PYMNTS collaboration with Stripe, examines how digital platforms of all sectors and sizes plan to develop their anti-fraud teams as part of their their broader growth and development strategies. Drawing from an extensive survey from approximately 250 payments heads at digital platforms in the U.S. and abroad, our study analyzes how poor anti-fraud capabilities can harm platforms’ long-term growth strategies, and how they can build high-performing teams to tackle these challenges.

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