Protocol | Fintech

PayPal wants to be an all-in-one super app. It has its work cut out.

CEO Dan Schulman sees payments, shopping, investing and budgeting all being integrated together, but he's not the only one thinking that way.

PayPal wants to be an all-in-one super app. It has its work cut out.

PayPal hopes its app will run your financial life. Some day.

Image: PayPal

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman thinks there are too many financial apps. So he wants to build a "super app" for consumers to manage payments, shopping, savings, investing, budgeting, crypto and identity — all in one place.

It's an ambitious undertaking still years away from actual fruition. It also highlights the multi-dimensional battle that's only just emerging between banks, fintech players like Affirm, PayPal, Square and Stripe, as well as big tech companies like Google and Apple. All these players want to be the go-to provider for consumers' finances.

Schulman believes that consumers only want to use eight to 10 apps, and that the rest are going to be essentially superseded by super apps. In China, Alipay has become known for its wide range of services.

"What a super app wants to do is turn all of those separate apps into a connected ecosystem where you can streamline and control data and information between those apps, between the act of shopping, the act of paying for that," Schulman said. "And then you have this common platform and common data that allows machine learning and artificial intelligence to kick in and give personalized recommendations to those consumers."

Schulman's vision, which he is laying out Thursday at PayPal's investor day, includes three major areas: payments, shopping and financial services.

This mega app needs to include a range of digital payments offerings, both online and offline, Schulman said, which need to be easily connected across merchants. This includes "not just any financial institution, credit card, debit card, ACH, but we'll also include things like rewards points redemption, utilizing cryptocurrency as a funding instrument, utilizing central bank issued digital currencies, when that becomes a reality."

Since payments are PayPal's historical strength, this is one area it could have some advantages against competitors. But Apple Pay and Google Pay have their own locked-in user bases on mobile devices, and Square has its Cash App.

For financial services, PayPal intends to partner, but Schulman said it would still be a "seamless PayPal experience," though some products could be built internally. Expect this offering to include services such as high-yield savings accounts, direct deposit, check-cashing and investing. Here PayPal faces intense competition from banks that natively offer financial services plus their own budgeting tools, not to mention aggregators such as Mint and Personal Capital, and startups offering savings tools.

"Because if somebody is going to be putting their money onto our platform, we want them to be able to grow that money, to invest that money in not just things like crypto, but in individual stocks and other assets that we digitize and allow people to invest in," he said.

While Schulman didn't delineate how PayPal would partner on this, there are a number of banking-as-a-service providers and brokerage-as-a-service companies that offer these types of white-labeled services. In this new fintech world, all sorts of companies can turn on these kinds of financial services, so PayPal's competitors could also make similar moves, giving consumers choice of where to get them.

There will be other facets to the app over time, too. Bill payment, subscription management and tools to help consumers with budgeting are also part of the mix, Schulman said.

With shopping, Schulman wants to provide "contextual commerce" by targeting consumers based on things like their wish lists with personalized offers and deals. This could include price monitoring and rewards. The goal is "so that you don't, as a consumer, need to go from one website to another and figure out different payment instruments, but you can do everything from one."

In this market, PayPal is facing not just Amazon and Shopify, but also "buy now, pay later" companies like Affirm and Klarna, which have honed their offerings over years operating in the sector.

And that raises the big question hanging over these kinds of super apps: Which companies are really capable of delivering all these services in a single product, in a way that consumers trust with their financial data and to manage their financial lives? PayPal hopes it's one of them, but it will be years before we know if that's true.

Protocol | Fintech

How European fintech startup N26 is preparing for U.S. regulations

"There's a lot more scrutiny being placed on fintech. We are definitely mindful of it."

Photo: N26

N26's monster $900 million funding round announced Monday underlined the German startup's momentum in the digital banking market.

Stephanie Balint, N26's U.S. general manager, said the funding will be used for expansion and also to improve "our core offering to make this the most reliable bank that our customers can trust," she told Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

The way we work has fundamentally changed. COVID-19 upended business dealings and office work processes, putting into hyperdrive a move towards digital collaboration platforms that allow teams to streamline processes and communicate from anywhere. According to the International Data Corporation, the revenue for worldwide collaboration applications increased 32.9 percent from 2019 to 2020, reaching $22.6 billion; it's expected to become a $50.7 billion industry by 2025.

"While consumers and early adopter businesses had widely embraced collaborative applications prior to the pandemic, the market saw five years' worth of new users in the first six months of 2020," said Wayne Kurtzman, research director of social and collaboration at IDC. "This has cemented collaboration, at least to some extent, for every business, large and small."

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Silver

Kate Silver is an award-winning reporter and editor with 15-plus years of journalism experience. Based in Chicago, she specializes in feature and business reporting. Kate's reporting has appeared in the Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic's CityLab, Atlas Obscura, The Telegraph and many other outlets.

Apple’s new MacBooks are the future — and the past

After years of reinventing the wheel, Apple's back to just building really good ones.

Apple brought back the ports.

Photo: Apple

The 2015 Pro was, by most accounts, one of the best laptops Apple ever made. It was fast and functional, and it had a great screen, a MagSafe charger, plenty of ports, a great keyboard and solid battery life. If you walked around practically any office in Silicon Valley, you'd see Pros everywhere.

Many of those users have been holding on to their increasingly old and dusty 2015 Pros, too, because right about when that computer came out was when Apple seemed to lose its way in the laptop market. It released the 12-inch MacBook, an incredibly thin and light computer that made a bunch of changes — a new keyboard and trackpad design chief among them — that eventually made their way around the rest of the MacBook lineup. Then came the Touch Bar, Apple's attempt to build an entirely new user interface into a laptop.

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editorial director. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Protocol spoke to founders and tech execs who've embraced async and have tips on how to get started.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Imagine a company where there are no meetings — just time for deep, focused work punctuated by short conversations on Slack and project updates on Trello.

Now imagine a company where the no-meeting ethos is so ingrained that it's possible to work there for 10 years without ever speaking face-to-face with a single coworker, and for your boss to not even recognize the sound of your voice.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma
Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.
Protocol | Workplace

#AppleToo activist says Apple fired her for deleting apps from her devices

Janneke Parrish says she was dismissed after deleting Robinhood, Pokemon Go and Google Drive from her work devices during an investigation inside the company.

The Apple Too movement is trying to organize Apple workers into a collective movement.
Photo: Bloomberg via Getty

Unlike most other companies, Apple asks that its employees use their work phones like personal ones — and for five years, Apple program manager Janneke Parrish did as she was told. But last week, when Apple asked Parrish for her devices in an internal investigation, she was afraid Apple would see her personal and private information. She disobeyed orders and deleted apps like Robinhood, Pokemon Go and Google Drive. Then Apple fired her.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Latest Stories