PayPal Passes 375 Million Users, Outlines “Super App” Future

As QR code payments expand and Venmo continues to surge, the future is bright for PayPal to become the most impactful fintech on the market.

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Need to Know

  • PayPal continues its growth in the digital space, breaking new records with fourth-quarter earnings of over $6 billion.
  • The popular fintech app acquired 73 million new active users in 2020, totaling 377 million accounts.
  • PayPal’s QR code payments are now accepted at over 600,000 retail locations, and merchants are experiencing double-digit increases in average basket sizes with consumers who frequently use our QR codes.
  • PayPal credits the success to the need for a more evolved digital wallet, or “super app,” that allows for more services than just payments.

Analysis

In a recent conference call with investors, PayPal announced a new record in earnings: fourth-quarter profits have tripled from last year. Thanks to the rise of digital and contactless payments, PayPal reported fourth-quarter net revenue of over $6 billion. 

In 2020, PayPal attracted 73 million new active user accounts, for a total of 377 million accounts, while daily active users also grew 29%. According to CEO Dan Schulman, PayPal expects to add another 50 million accounts in 2021. 

PayPal also reported a spike in the number of users taking to the app to sell goods online, adding 1.4 million new merchants and processing over 4 billion transactions. The total payments volume for the record quarter hit $277 billion. 

The reason for the success? Schulman credits PayPal’s evolution of its digital wallet into a “super app” that “transcends across payments, commerce, and financial services, all of that on a common platform, all of that leveraging common data elements and machine learning on top of that to give next best recommendations.” 

Also contributing to this year’s success is the growing popularity of PayPal-owned Venmo. With 70 million total accounts, the money-sending app grew by 32% in 2020, and Schulman anticipates that by the end of this year, Venmo will bring in $900 million. 

PayPal also responded to direct customer needs by offering new services based around government funds.

“In early January, eligible customers were able to cash their stimulus checks within the Venmo app for the first time,” explained Schulman. “Later in this month, our Venmo credit card will be available to 100% of our base. And in the coming months, we will launch the ability to buy, hold and sell crypto via the Venmo app. And finally, our revamped Pay with Venmo experience will launch in Q2, offering a best-in-class checkout experience.”

PayPal also credits the growth to the introduction of QR codes for easy transactions, as well as strategic partnerships with big-name brands like CVS, Foot Locker, and Nike. In late 2020, CVS became the first national retailer to offer contactless payments with PayPal and Venmo.

QR code payments have been a big success for PayPal, as the payment method is now available at over 600,000 retail locations in total. Nearly 10 million users bought something with PayPal in a physical store in 2020.

“Merchants are experiencing double-digit increases in average basket sizes with consumers who frequently use our QR codes, and we are seeing a 19% increase in [total payment volume] from consumers who use our QR codes,” said Schulman.

Schulman also noted that in 2021, PayPal plans to collaborate with other financial industry partners “to introduce even more functionality, including budget and savings tools, investment alternatives, including, but not limited to crypto, and enhanced bill pay options.” 

For example, just a few months ago, Amex tapped PayPal and Venmo’s tech to allow its customers to send and split payments. Visa also recently expanded its partnership with PayPal, now offering Instant Transfer services in more countries worldwide. 

The fintech app also plans to take advantage of recently-acquired Honey’s features, “including wish lists, price monitoring, deals, coupons, and rewards, for use in the physical and digital worlds.” 

The popular finance app has been a leader in digital innovation in recent years, and now sets the pace for competing fintech firms in the future.   

Says Schulman, “Today’s digital reality is rapidly accelerating the need for a digital wallet that encompasses payments, financial services, and shopping.”

“I think we are going to see … a real bend in the historic rate of engagement. And it’s going to be all around that super app functionality in that digital wallet, moving well beyond just payments.”

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