After enabling cross-border, domestic business is now inviting
Global payment gateway PayPal just completed a decade of its operations in India and has witnessed the entire evolution of the payment ecosystem — from cash and cards to digital. The company, which started with cross-border payments system in India, launched domestic payments service in November 2017 and is now looking to position itself as a one-stop destination of all payment systems. BusinessLine spoke to Anupam Pahuja, India Head of PayPal, on the company’s plans, trends in the payments space and innovation. Excerpts:
PayPal has been present in India for the last one decade but has hardly made any strikes in the payment system. Do you agree? What went wrong?
Through the past 10 years we have enabled cross-border transactions, helping small and medium merchants grow their business across the globe.
Interestingly, one-third of all B2C exports go through PayPal. Our value propositions like Buyer and Seller Protection are unparalleled and India is the largest market for freelancers in the world. Freelancers in India currently work with clients across the world to provide services ranging from dance tuitions on Skype to developing software and content. The payments for these services are processed through PayPal.
The playground for PayPal is completely different in India. With our global leadership across 200 countries over two decades we understand the end-consumer — it is not about product innovation but to offer a safe and secure payments experience which will ensure repeat usage.
What’s the status on your domestic payment business?
November 8 was a landmark date for us in India — we launched our domestic operations. At the onset, we have partnered with the likes of BookMyshow, MakeMytrip, FirstCry, PVR, Yatra, and Ferns N Petals to name a few. We will gradually scale up our presence and partner with more number of merchants.
This is the start of a journey — it is a marathon and not a sprint, and with our global experience and best practices we will offer a truly differentiated payments experience.
Google and WhatsApp have created payment systems for the India market; what are PayPal’s plans in this regard?
The announcements made by Google and WhatsApp are positive for the larger ecosystem. Fostering partnerships is the key for growth of the sector as they help expand the network of customers that can be reached out to. The way forward for all payment service providers is to leverage partnerships to help empower the end-consumer.
How do you plan to take on Google, WhatsApp, and Amazon?
India provides a wide array of opportunities for all payment providers to thrive and succeed. Competition is like gravity, it is present everywhere and it only compels the players to innovate.
Who do you think, is the biggest threat in this ecosystem at present, and why?
Every sector has its impediments to growth. In some markets it is policy, while in some others it is the consumer mindset. In India, cash is the biggest competition. As the sector scales, risk and security will also become threats as hackers become more efficient.
What has been the growth in the cross-border payments and small merchant payments? What’s the outlook?
Cross-border payments have been a key focus for us across the globe and in India. We have enabled freelancers and small and medium merchants to grow their business and compete with the larger players. As India is the largest freelancer market in the world, this business will continue to be a focus.
CBT takes places on the basis of the trust that a brand like PayPal offers — it helps unknown people do business.
What is your plan for the India market ? How do you see the payments market shaping up when cash is already back at 90 per cent?
Cross-border trade is a very strong opportunity for us in India. We launched domestic operations in India in November 2017 and the response from consumers is very encouraging . We have always said that cash continues to be among the biggest competitors to digital payments.
However, with the growing infrastructure, this is set to change and the opportunity is very exciting. India is going big on digital and cashless payments.
Will you look at a greenfield entry into the Indian payment space or through an acquisition?
Consolidation for a better customer experience will be key. We are open to all options.
How do you see the impact of blockchain and bitcoin on the digital financial payment systems?
Blockchain is undoubtedly a breakthrough in computer science, and we are still figuring out its complete relevance and full scope. It is important to separate blockchain, which is the underlying technology protocol, from cryptocurrency, which is one of its applications.
As of now, cryptocurrency cannot be the only and complete application of this technology. What blockchain does is solve the issue of distributed trust — allowing two unknown parties to conduct a secure transaction without an intermediary. This can help in transactions that take a long time to settle and will have a huge long-term impact in how people transfer value.

PayPal India 

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