It is a spring for big anniversaries it seems.
Last week, Apple celebrated a milestone of 40 years in existence, and this month, PayPal’s mobile money is ringing in its first decade.
“On April 6, 2006, seven years after PayPal’s first foray into mobile payments, PayPal launched a new way for people to send each other money, buy the things they loved and donate to charities directly from their cell phones via text message,” wrote Bill Ready, PayPal’s SVP of global product and engineering.
And if that date seems a little early to you, well, it should, Ready notes, as PayPal went mobile before mobile was a thing — or, at least, a thing that had gone entirely mainstream among consumers.
“To put this in perspective, this was well before the iPhone launched in 2007 and before the Apple App Store and Google Play stores launched in 2008 and 2012, respectively. It was also before next-gen mobile apps, like Uber, Airbnb and HotelTonight, had transformed the transportation and accommodations industries and well before the mass adoption of smartphones.”
But mobile was in PayPal’s DNA. The firm first started as a method of money transfer between PDAs before pivoting to Web-based payments when it realized the world was not quite ready for mobile just yet. And, Ready notes, the firm continued its slow and steady mobile path by acquiring mobile-first firms, like Venmo and Braintree — the payments brains behind the app for a who’s who list of Web 2.0 firms, like Airbnb, Uber and Jet, among others.
Those investments have paid off for PayPal, noted Ready, as the rest of the world has gotten increasingly on board with the mobile mentality.
“As the industry began to adopt mobile, PayPal’s mobile volume grew dramatically. In 2010, mobile was only 1 percent of PayPal’s payment volume. In 2015, nearly a third of the 4.9 billion payments PayPal processed were on mobile. Our mobile payment volume alone was $66 billion last year.”
And while those accomplishments will certainly be celebrated with the traditional cake and punch in a day or so, PayPal’s focus is on the what’s next part of the story and scaling PayPal’s digital reach as more and more commerce goes online and digital.
“Digital commerce first came about online and, only recently, spread across mobile contexts. We’re now pushing the industry forward with new innovations, like PayPal Commerce, enabling consumers to connect with the things they love anywhere — whether in an email or on a social media site, like Pinterest or Facebook.”
Ready also wrote about PayPal’s potential to help unlock financial services in the developing world where banks have not quite caught on fully yet.
“Mobile will lead to more change in commerce over the next decade than we’ve seen in the last hundred years, and PayPal will continue to lead this revolution.”