Behind the Button: A Peek Inside PayPal’s Two-Sided Network of Consumers and Businesses

What makes PayPal uniquely positioned to help businesses sell and consumers shop with confidence

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PayPal began with a vision of an online world where consumers could safely, securely, and easily use digital payments to shop. Over the past 24 years, our two-sided network has grown significantly, seamlessly connecting shoppers and retailers across the globe. Our customers include both consumers and businesses, so we see both sides of the relationship, which is unique for PayPal as most companies focus on only one or the other. Businesses look to us to help them navigate the digital economy, while consumers choose us for the flexibility and ease that we enable in how they shop and manage their daily finances. By creating a PayPal account, you join millions of consumers and merchants who also have an account on our platform – a community that you can trust and recognise.

We connect the dots between what consumers/shoppers and businesses/sellers want. If, for instance, an expectant couple wants to put up a cloud-print wallpaper in a nursery, they will probably compare the products and prices offered by several businesses and select the one they want to buy. But what if the wallpaper, after it has been delivered, doesn't look the same colour as it did on the computer screen, and the buyers want to return it? This entails a new interaction between the buyers and the seller. PayPal can help protect consumers on such occasions through the PayPal Buyer Protection* on eligible purchases.

In any transaction, a business needs to know some level of information about who is paying and how, but the buyer doesn't need to share all details with every business they buy from. PayPal safeguards financial details by encrypting information so that all the business receives is a token and not the customer’s complete financial information.

It is like a game of “Telephone”. The more people told something, the greater the risk of this information reaching somewhere you don't want it to be. PayPal helps avoid this risk by not sharing the financial information of customers, while still converting the sale for the merchant.

The importance of security cannot be overstated; there are very sophisticated fraud organizations nowadays. Usually, if a business gets hacked, much of the information it has about its customers is compromised. However, if the business happens to be a PayPal customer, shoppers who used PayPal at that merchant will remain protected because their full financial information was not transferred over to the merchant.

Much like consumer behavior and expectations, PayPal’s network and platform continue to evolve and set the bar increasingly higher, especially in balancing choice and speed.

Shoppers today have a wide choice of payment options, and the PayPal digital wallet offers them the flexibility to switch between payment options any time they want. And PayPal balances choice with speed – another high expectation of shoppers. We want the payment to be so easy, you don’t even notice it happening. There is friction only where the customer wants it – say, to review a bill before paying.

Stay tuned for the rest of this series where we’ll go deeper Behind the Button, exploring how PayPal makes navigating finances simpler – all this in a secure digital environment.

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