There needs to be an asterisk now in the part of PayPal’s history that describes its founder’s vision of creating a payments ecosystem that would let any person “beam” money to any other person — instantly — so that the money could be used anywhere they wanted to spend it — instantly.
Yesterday, PayPal announced news that soon, Venmo and PayPal users will be able to send money transfers via its mobile app in a heartbeat to anyone they want — and have the receiver access and use those funds — in a heartbeat — anywhere that Visa and Mastercard debit cards are accepted.
At present, access to those funds sent from the PayPal or Venmo mobile app to a user’s bank account takes about 24 hours. For an extra $0.25, users will be able to access those funds in minutes.
It was a plan, Ready noted, that marked the beginning of PayPal’s big shift from being perceived as a payments ecosystem adversary to an ecosystem enabler in digital banking and money transfers, leveraging the reach of PayPal online and via mobile pay for the benefit of card issuers and the consumers they serve.
“Over the course of the last year, we haven’t just reframed the way we are working with Visa and Mastercard, but also how we are working with the entire banking ecosystem,” Ready told Webster. “We aspire to be one of the best ways for issuers to engage their customers and drive engagement and revenue for them and for the ecosystem.”
Turning Cost Centers into Revenue Drivers
The peer-to-peer (P2P) payments market is evolving rapidly, Webster noted; it looks quite different than the one in which banks were living six years ago when the tracks were being laid for their own P2P payments moves. One that, she remarked, came with all of the complexities of building a network: scale, ubiquity, a consistent user experience with payment methods and a business model for banks, beyond a loss leader for keeping consumers sticky.
That is something that Ready said was always on PayPal’s mind as it evolved its own P2P models. In partnership with the card networks, he said, PayPal was determined to create a “better and more profitable” digital banking alternative for those issuers.
“What we have been doing with Instant Cash Out underscores our commitment to driving engagement between account holders and the banks, but in a way that helps drive revenue and profits for card issuers instead of layering on more costs.”
Ready described the opportunity as a “virtuous circle” — issuers are given an opportunity to use their most valuable card products to deliver consumer value — and choice for how quickly consumers want to receive their money – and where they want to spend it.
Leveraging PayPal and Venmo’s network of PayPal and Venmo users, he said, is another way for banks to create more consumer engagement while also extending and strengthening their digital reach through mobile bank transfers.
PayPal and Venmo consumers will have the option of sending money to a receiver’s bank account without having to know which bank or smartphone he or she uses.
“We want to help people get the most use out of the cards they already have in their wallets,” Ready explained, “and make that interaction easy and secure and instant, if that’s what they want.”
The Power of Ubiquity
To drive engagement, Bill Ready noted, an issuer must be ready to meet consumers where they are, and where they will be going. And, increasingly, he pointed out, that’s digital — via mobile pay.
It’s a big reason that he says banks now are actively encouraging their consumers to add their cards to their PayPal accounts so that they can participate in the digital footprint that PayPal and Venmo can deliver for them.
“If you are an issuer, the big question is where is their future growth and engagement coming from? Physical world retail is really struggling — and all the growth is coming from digital.”
PayPal, by the numbers, is the largest driver of digital transactions on the web for transactions that don’t go through Amazon, with its 200 million active users, checkout on 75 percent of Internet Retailers’ top 100 merchants and 50 million OneTouch customers.