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PayPal is an e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. It is also a European bank based in Luxembourg. It serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods such as cheques and money orders. PayPal performs payment processing for online vendors, auction sites, and other corporate users, for which it charges a fee. It sometimes also charges a transaction fee for receiving money (a percentage of the amount sent plus an additional fixed amount). The fees charged depend on the currency used, the payment option used, the country of the sender, the country of the recipient, the amount sent and the recipient's account type[citation needed]. On October 3, 2002, PayPal became a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay. Its corporate headquarters are in San Jose, California, United States at eBay's North First Street satellite office campus. The company also has significant operations in Omaha, Nebraska, Scottsdale, Arizona and Austin, Texas in the U.S.; India; Dublin, Ireland; and Berlin, Germany,and now also in Tel-Aviv,Israel after PayPal has acquired an Israeli startup called FraudSciences for $169 million.


The current incarnation of PayPal is the result of a March 2000 merger between Confinity and[3] Confinity was founded in December 1998 by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, and Luke Nosek, initially as a Palm Pilot payments and cryptography company.[4] was founded by Elon Musk in March 1999, initially as an Internet financial services company. Both Confinity and launched their websites in late 1999. Both companies were located on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Confinity's website was initially focused on reconciling beamed payments from Palm Pilots[5] with email payments as a feature and's website initially included financial services with email payments as a feature.

At Confinity, many of the initial recruits were alumni of The Stanford Review, also founded by Peter Thiel, and most early engineers hailed from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recruited by Max Levchin. On the side, Elon Musk recruited a wide range of technical and business personnel, including many that were critical to the combined company's success, such as Amy Klement, Sal Giambanco, Roelof Botha[6] of Sequoia Capital, Sanjay Bhargava and Jeremy Stoppelman.[7]

To block potentially fraudulent access by automated systems, PayPal devised a system (see CAPTCHA) of making the user enter numbers from a blurry picture, which they coined the Gausebeck-Levchin test. According to Eric M. Jackson, author of the book The PayPal Wars, PayPal invented this system now in common use; however, there is evidence AltaVista used a CAPTCHA as early as 1997, before PayPal existed.[citation needed] The neutrality of The PayPal Wars, which was self-published by Eric Jackson through his company World Ahead Publishing, funded in part by Peter Thiel, is disputed. In either case, the PayPal CAPTCHA has been proven insecure.[8]

eBay watched the rise in volume of online payments and realized its fit with online auctions. eBay purchased Billpoint in May 1999, prior to the existence of PayPal. eBay made Billpoint its official payment system, dubbing it "eBay Payments," but cut the functionality of Billpoint by narrowing it to only payments made for eBay auctions.

For this reason, PayPal was listed in several times as many auctions as Billpoint. In February of 2000, the PayPal service had an average of approximately 200,000 daily auctions while Billpoint (in beta) had only 4,000 auctions. By April of 2000, more than 1,000,000 auctions promoted the PayPal service. PayPal was able to turn the corner and become the first dot-com to IPO after the September 11 attacks.

[edit] Acquisition by eBay

In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion. PayPal had previously been the payment method of choice by more than fifty percent of eBay users, and the service competed with eBay’s subsidiary Billpoint, Citibank’s c2it, whose service was closed in late 2003, and Yahoo!'s PayDirect, whose service was closed in late 2004. Western Union announced the December 2005 shut down of their BidPay service but subsequently sold it in 2006 to CyberSource Corporation. BidPay announced it would cease all operations on 31 December 2007, and it did. Some competitors which offer some of PayPal’s services, such as Wirecard, Moneybookers, 2Checkout, CCNow and Kagi, remain in business, despite the fact that eBay now requires everyone on its Australian and United Kingdom sites to offer PayPal.

PayPal’s total payment volume, the total value of transactions, was US$11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, an increase of 36% over the previous year. The company continues to focus on international growth and growth of its Merchant Services division, providing online payments for retailers off eBay.

Business today

Currently, PayPal operates in 190 markets, and it manages over 164 million accounts. PayPal allows customers to send, receive, and hold funds in 18 currencies worldwide. These currencies are the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Euro, Pound sterling, Japanese yen, Czech Koruna, Danish krone, Hong Kong dollar, Hungarian forint, Israeli new sheqel, Mexican pesos, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian krone, Polish zloty, Singapore dollar, Swedish krona, and Swiss franc. PayPal operates locally in 13 countries.

Residents in 190 markets can use PayPal in their local markets to send money online. These new markets include Peru, Indonesia, the Philippines, Croatia, Fiji, Vietnam and Jordan. A complete list can be viewed at PayPal's website.

In China PayPal offers two kinds of accounts:

  • accounts, for sending and receiving money to/from other accounts. All non-Chinese accounts are accounts, so these accounts may be used to send money internationally.
    • accounts, for sending and receiving money to and from other accounts.

It is impossible to send money between accounts and accounts, so accounts are effectively unable to make international payments. For, the only supported currency is the renminbi.

Although PayPal's corporate headquarters are located in San Jose, PayPals operations center is located near Omaha, Nebraska, where the company employs more than 2,000 people as of 2007. PayPal’s international headquarters is located in Dublin, Ireland. The company also recently opened a technology center in Scottsdale, Arizona.


The domain attracted at least 260 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.

Bank status

In the United States, PayPal is licensed as a money transmitter on a state-by-state basis. PayPal is not classified as a bank in the United States, though the company is subject to some of the rules and regulations governing the financial industry including Regulation E consumer protections and the USA PATRIOT Act.[citation needed] On May 15, 2007, PayPal announced that it would move its European operations from the UK to Luxembourg, commencing July 2, 2007 as PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A. This would be as a Luxembourg entity regulated as a bank by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), the Luxembourg equivalent of the FSA. PayPal Luxembourg will then provide the PayPal service throughout the European Union (EU).

Safety and protection policies

The PayPal Buyer Protection Policy

states that customers may file a buyer complaint within 45 days if they did not receive an item or if the item they purchased was significantly not as described. If the buyer used a credit card, they might get a refund via chargeback from their credit card company.

According to PayPal, it protects sellers in a limited fashion via the Seller Protection Policy. In general the Seller Protection Policy is intended to protect the seller from certain kinds of chargebacks or complaints if seller meets certain conditions including proof of delivery to the buyer. PayPal states the Seller Protection Policy is "designed to protect sellers against claims by buyers of unauthorized payments and against claims of non-receipt of any merchandise". Note that this contrasts with the consumer protection they claim to offer. This policy should be read carefully before assuming protection. In particular the Seller Protection Policy includes a list of "Exclusions" which itself includes "Intangible goods", "Claims for receipt of goods 'not as described'" and "Total reversals over the annual limit". There are also other restrictions in terms of the sale itself, the payment method and the destination country the item is shipped to (simply having a tracking mechanism is not sufficient to guarantee the Seller Protection Policy is in effect).[18] A class-action lawsuit was filed against PayPal, days after the company's successful initial public offering. [19]


A PayPal security key generates a six-digit temporary login code to authenticate the user.
A PayPal security key generates a six-digit temporary login code to authenticate the user.

Security key

In early 2007, PayPal introduced an optional security key that adds an additional layer of protection when logging into PayPal or eBay accounts. A user account tied to a security key has a modified login process; once the user enters their normal login ID and password, they are prompted to press a button on the security key, then enter the six-digit number generated by the key to complete the login process. This two-factor authentication prevents an account from being compromised by a malicious third party without access to the physical security key. If a user loses their security key, they can authenticate by providing their credit card or bank account number listed on their account.

There is a one-time US$5.00 charge to receive a security key, with no ongoing fees; however, business accounts get them free of charge. The option of adding a security key to one's account is currently available only to users registered in the United States, Germany and Australia.


PayPal has developed substantial anti-Phishing resources, for identifying and reporting phishing.

Entrepreneurship by former employees

A number of companies have been started and funded by former PayPal employees. This trend prompted The New York Times to publish a story entitled "It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley" that analyzes the connections between several PayPal employees who went on to become influential.

* LinkedIn was founded by Reid Hoffman, a former VP at PayPal.
* Facebook received its first angel investment from Peter Thiel.
* Clarium Capital Management is a hedge fund run by Peter Thiel. Principal partners at Clarium include Ken Howery and Luke Nosek, both of whom were among the earliest employees at PayPal.
* Slide was founded by Max Levchin, Jared Kopf, and former PayPal board member Scott Banister.
* Yelp was founded by Jeremy Stoppelmann, former VP of Engineering at PayPal, and Russ Simmons, one of the first employees at PayPal. Yelp is funded by Max Levchin.
* YouTube (now owned by Google) was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, all of whom were early employees at PayPal. YouTube is funded by Sequoia Capital. Roelof Botha, the former CFO of PayPal, is a partner of Sequoia Capital who sits on YouTube's board of directors.
* Room 9 Entertainment, which produced the movie Thank You for Smoking, was founded by David O. Sacks, who founded PayPal's Product Group and later served as Chief Operating Officer (COO).
* was also founded by David O. Sacks.
* SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk, who founded and served as the CEO following its merger with PayPal.
* Anchor Intelligence is run by Ken Miller, who was VP of Risk Management at PayPal and the architect of PayPal's anti-fraud system.
* Tesla Motors' principal owner and Chairman of the Board is Elon Musk.
* HourTown was founded by Ryan Donahue, an early product designer at PayPal


It has been suggested that some of the information in this article's Criticism or Controversy section(s) be merged into other sections to achieve a more neutral presentation. (Discuss)

In September 2005, the owner of the website Something Awful, Richard Kyanka, set up an account to collect donations for Hurricane Katrina, to be given to the Red Cross. Due to the high rate at which donations were made, the account was automatically frozen, and Kyanka criticized the time and difficulty involved in getting PayPal's customer service to unfreeze the account. In response to the concerns of Something Awful members over the charity used by PayPal, United Way, Kyanka finally opted to have the money refunded to the donors so that they could donate directly to their charities of choice, though Paypal did not refund exchange and handling fees for international donors.

In March 2008, Australian current affairs show "Today Tonight", aired a segment criticizing PayPal, in regards to safety, freezing accounts and customer service.

Several PayPal gripe sites have been created complaining of frozen accounts and various other issues. Some of these include web forums where apparent unhappy customers share PayPal experiences. Typical experiences include freezing accounts of eCommerce stores if they experience rapid growth preventing them from paying suppliers.

In June 2008 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that "The evidence available does not support the view that PayPal is the most secure method of payment, or offers the best service for all transactions."


In 2002, CertCo filed a suit against PayPal claiming patent infringement concerning the use of distributed computing systems that process micropayments, or small cash amounts. In April of 2002, CertCo dropped the suit and stated that they had come to a settlement involving "a non-consequential payment and mutual releases."

In March 2002, two PayPalaccount holders separately sued the company for alleged violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) and California law. Most of the allegations concerned PayPal's dispute resolution procedures. The two lawsuits were merged into one class action lawsuit (In re PayPal litigation). An informal settlement was reached in November 2003, and a formal settlement was signed on June 11, 2004. The settlement requires that PayPal change its business practices (including changing its dispute resolution procedures to make them EFTA-compliant), as well as making a US$9.25 million payment to members of the class. PayPal denied any wrongdoing.

In May 2002, Tumbleweed Communications filed a lawsuit against PayPal (and later expanded it to include eBay) claiming that PayPal had violated its patents for sending personalized links through e-mail which PayPal uses to alert its customers about financial transactions. In January 2004, the two parties came to an agreement, but didn't disclose the financial terms of their licensing agreement.

In June 2003, filed a lawsuit against PayPal and eBay claiming breach of contract, breach of the implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing, and interference with contract, among other claims. In a 2002 license agreement, and PayPal agreed that technology would be made available to allow PayPal users to buy and print postage online from their PayPal accounts. claimed that PayPal did not live up to its contractual obligations and accused eBay of interfering with PayPal and's agreement, hence's reasoning for including eBay in the suit.[32]

In August 2002, Craig Comb and others filed a class action against PayPal in Craig Comb, et al. v. PayPal, Inc.. They sued for alleged mishandling of customer accounts and customer services, with regards to PayPal's user agreement. Allegations included restricting deposited funds for up to 180 days until disputes are resolved, forcing customers to arbitrate their disputes under the American Arbitration Association's guidelines (a costly procedure), and requiring users to file claims individually, restricting class action suits. The court stated that "the User Agreement and arbitration clause are substantively unconscionable under California law" and ruled in favor of Comb.

In September 2003, PayPal filed suit against Bank One Corporation for patent infringement. PayPal claimed that Bank One's online bill-payment system was an infringement against their online bill-payment patent issued in 1998. PayPal filed the suit after a warning to the bank's lawyers in February went unabated.

In November 2003, AT&T filed suit against eBay and PayPal claiming that their payment systems infringed an AT&T patent filed in 1991 and granted in 1994.

In March 2004, PayPal and New York state's Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, came to an agreement to require PayPal to disclose clients' rights and liabilities more accurately and to pay $150,000 to the state of New York for penalties and the costs of the investigation.


1. ^ Troy Wolverton (2002-10-03). "It's official: eBay weds PayPal". CNet. Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
2. ^ "PayPal Careers". Retrieved on 2006-11-17.
3. ^ "Findlaw Documentation" (2006-12-31).
4. ^ "Wired Article" (2006-12-31).
5. ^ "Wired Article" (1999-07-27).
6. ^ Roelof Botha - Venture Capitalist - Sequoia Capital
7. ^ PayPal: An alternate history according to Elon Musk
8. ^ Breaking the CAPTCHA
9. ^ Kane, Margaret (July 8, 2002). "eBay picks up PayPal for $1.5 billion", CNET, CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2007-11-13.
10. ^ eBay announcement 24 March 2008 09:00AM GMT
11. ^ eBay Australia announcing PayPal will be the exclusive payment method from 17 June 2008.
12. ^ Virgil Larson, "Local building, global growth: PayPal opens facility, plans to expand staff to keep up with business," Omaha World-Herald, 8 March 2007, 1D.
13. ^ Paypall attracts 260m visitors online
14. ^ Wolverton, Troy, FDIC decides PayPal's no bank, ZDNet News, 2002-03-13, accessed 2008-03-19
15. ^ Stevenson, Tom, PayPal becomes a bank to fight off Google, Telegraph, 2007-05-16, accessed 2008-03-19
16. ^ Press release, PayPal Expands European Growth With Bank Charter And New European Headquarters, 2007-05-15, accessed 2008-03-19
17. ^ User Agreement for PayPal Service (it reads in part: "Credit card chargeback rights, if they apply, are broader than PayPal Buyer Protection")
18. ^ The in-line paypal URL in this section. Disputes between Buyers and Sellers - Buyer Protection Programs.
19. ^ Paypal]
20. ^ eBay Security Center: PayPal Security Key
21. ^ PayPal Help Center
22. ^ Security Center
23. ^ Helft, Miguel (2006-10-17). ""It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley"". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
24. ^ Wired News
25. ^ E-Commerce News: Security: Feds Investigating Fraudulent Katrina-Related Web Sites
26. ^ Youtube video of news report on eBay and PayPal aired March 2008 on an Australian news TV show called Today Tonight.
27. ^ " Website" (2008-04-23).
28. ^ "Draft Notice in respect of a notification lodged by eBay International A.G.". Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2008-06-12). Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
29. ^ "CertCo Drops PayPal Patent Suit" (2008-04-23).
30. ^ "Settlement Agreement" (2004-06-11).
31. ^ "EBay Settles Patent Lawsuit With Tumbleweed Communications" (2008-04-23).
32. ^ " Asserts Breach of Contract Claim Against PayPal and eBay" (2008-04-23).
33. ^ "Comb v. PayPal Inc." (2007-01-21).
34. ^ "Internet: Paypal Sues Bank One Over Patent Infringement" (2008-04-23).
35. ^ "AT&T sues eBay, PayPal over patent" (2008-04-23).
36. ^ "Spitzer Obtains Agreement With E-Payment Service" (2008-04-23).

External links

  • PayPal
    • "Assessing Criticism of PayPal" by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Web Commerce Today, Issue 56, March 15, 2002

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