Last week, PayPal got the ecosystem's attention when it announced its newest partnership with Mastercard to expand both firms' reach in the digital and physical commerce space. For PayPal, it was another public affirmation of its broader vision to become payments and commerce’s global open platform.
This week, PayPal, in addition to Braintree, had a slew of announcements about how they are updating and enhancing its platform behind the scenes to make sure that its platform delivers a consistent experience wherever and however a consumer and merchant wants to use it.
PYMNTS was there to hear the news of the new rollouts at Braintree’s SF HQ. And as Arnold Goldberg, VP of merchant product and tech at PayPal, told Karen Webster, going into the holiday season, customers may not know they’re seeing an upgraded PayPal or One Touch experience, but they’ll feel it all over the web as they click and tap their way through their shopping lists.
PayPal Allows Customers To Choose — Braintree Enables
After years of watching mobile and digital payments try to launch the world over, it has become increasingly clear that dictating to customers what their choice should be is not a terribly successful way to engage them. It’s much better to let customers choose and let those choices dictate design, even if it means the customer doesn’t always choose you.
Hence PayPal's first big update: U.S. customers will be able to set their preferred payment method in their PayPal Wallet, and PayPal will honor that choice. Going forward, customers will be able to fund their PayPal Wallet with something other than their PayPal balance, such as their credit card, debit card or bank account.
"I think this is one of those things that's been a long time coming," Goldberg told Webster. "It's all about where we don't kinda-sorta respect your choice as a consumer, as to what instrument you want to use. We really, actually respect it."
PayPal is also expanding its One Touch checkout capability and expects to have enlisted over 5 million merchants globally and 36 million consumers to opt-in by the end of the year.
The Braintree platform has also significantly opened up, even to firms that might have previously been viewed as “the competition" by PayPal.
Braintree GM Juan Benitez called out PayPal Credit in particular as a unique offering for consumers.
"We think it's an exciting vehicle for merchants to be able to have a new way to engage with consumers," Benitez said. "It's another method of choice for the merchant to offer the experiences they want to offer."
As Goldberg told Webster, this is key for both their consumer customers and their merchant customers during this holiday shopping season and beyond. The point is to make it as seamless as possible to interact along a variety of touchpoints — all while offering a single experience for both parties.
"We don't have to create complexity," Goldberg noted. "The idea is to create simplicity."
The Merchant Experience Upgrade
The problem with talk of “simplicity” in payments is that they are usually more referring to the person doing the paying, rather than the merchant providing the product or service. As it turns out, a wave of a phone — or even the tap of a screen — can be much easier to handle on the front end than it is to manage correctly on the back end.
SVP of Global Product and Engineering Bill Ready said it's part of PayPal's and Braintree's initiatives to "round out" themselves as companies serving both consumers and businesses.
Because the business is growing, Ready noted, it took Braintree about a decade to process $200 billion worth of mobile transactions. The next $100 billion in mobile transactions will occur within the next 12 months. The nature of the business is also changing. Consumers aren’t just shopping online on computers; they are shopping (and browsing and coupon clipping and bargain hunting) on desktop, mobile or smartwatches, and their needs are ever-evolving.
"The common thread across all those," said Ready "is that, over the next five to 10 years, consumers and merchants will meet one another in many new ways that are different than the traditional checkout."
For PayPal's Braintree, that means, apart from shoppers' needs, it had a whole wish list to fill out for merchants this holiday season, and among those that spoke at PayPal's event, most pointed to payroll solutions and PayPal's more bank-like functions as especially nice upgrades in their stockings this year.
Goldberg told Webster he's listening to their needs and pointed to PayPal Working Capital as an example of how PayPal is listening, too.
"For me, to hear about how we're helping one merchant who has no other resources, I love being a company that really enables businesses," he said, adding that hearing from PayPal's merchant customers about the uses of its latest rollouts motivates the company.
"This is certainly heartening to hear; there's a human element to it."
PayPal would rather enable anyone than play traffic cop or bouncer and decide who can use its systems or come to the party. Because, ultimately, those players create friction for everyone, which means no one wins. PayPal thinks that, by opening up and letting everyone play, everyone has a better chance of winning.
It’s an optimistic outlook, but a world where everyone wins, as opposed to no one, is certainly an improvement for both merchants and customers.