Paypal Celebrates 10 Years of Mobile Payments

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By Bill Ready, SVP, Global Product & Engineering, PayPal   
The move to mobile has been one of the greatest changes in human behavior in recorded history. There are now more mobile connections than people on the planet. Mobile has fundamentally changed the way we consume content, connect to the things we love, communicate, and get access to everything from food to transportation to accommodations — in a tap. Today, mobile is no longer a nice to have it’s a must have, and the industry as a whole is moving toward a mobile first strategy. PayPal had led this from mobile’s earliest days starting exactly 10 years ago this month when we launched our first payments product for mobile phones in April, 2006.
Our mobile strategy predates even that. Confinity, the company that became PayPal, was the original pioneer in the push to mobile. In 1999, PayPal’s first business was a mobile one (although on personal digital assistants or PDAs)  — beaming money between two Palm Pilots. But PayPal was ahead of its time and the world wasn’t yet ready for mobile, so the company pivoted to email payments and helped ignite the online commerce revolution, allowing everyday people to transact with each other on the Internet. 
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.
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.
Throughout the last ten years, we have continued to innovate and invest in mobile, acquiring mobile-first companies like Braintree, which launched its first mobile API in Feb 2012 and built a payments platform upon which mobile innovators like Uber, Airbnb, HotelTonight, Dropbox, Munchery and Jet have innovated. Along with the Braintree acquisition, Venmo — one of the world’s fastest growing mobile apps that processed more than $1B in payments in January alone — joined the PayPal family. Since then, we have acquired companies like Paydiant, which is focused on building in-app mobile solutions for businesses like Subway; acquired Xoom, which enables seamless remittances for people around the world, most often from their mobile devices; and Modest, which powers contextual commerce so people can connect with and buy the things they love at the point of discovery.
As part of the PayPal platform, the mobile innovation these companies bring propels our flywheel for growth. PayPal is the only truly global, end-to-end, payments platform that operates on both the consumer and merchant sides of the ecosystem — exclusively focused on mobile and digital payments. This enables us to think more holistically about how people can best manage and move their money and how businesses can better connect with their customers anywhere, anytime, around the world.
Today, mobile commerce in the US alone exceeds $100 billion and continues to grow at a rapid pace. 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 of the 4.9 billion payments PayPal processed were on mobile. Our mobile payment volume alone was $66 billion last year.paypal 10 years
Despite major advancements in mobile across the industry, today, mobile is still only a tiny fraction of all commerce — even though consumers are demanding more seamless mobile experiences. That’s why we’ve been innovating with experiences like One Touch™, the first cross platform one touch mobile buying experience that enables consumers to connect with the things they love without having to remember passwords or having to type in credit card information. Experiences like these help drive convenience for consumers and sales for businesses no matter where they are happening.
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.
The potential of mobile globally — especially in countries where people don’t have access to banks, ATMs or even traditional computers — is profound. Mobile is breaking down barriers and has the power to help drive financial inclusion globally. Our commitment to working with many of our mobile and payment partners to bring innovation to global markets, and our new partnerships with telecom providers like Vodafone, Telcel and Claro, will put fast and simple payment solutions in the hands of hundreds of millions of people around the world — helping to democratize financial services globally.
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.