The COVID-19 pandemic continues to put huge stress on people's and businesses' finances, and in an effort to meet some of the crunch, today PayPal and Visa announced an expansion of a service to get cash into people's hands faster. Instant Transfer — a service where PayPal lets people and businesses quickly access transferred funds by moving them to bank accounts (cutting down waiting time from days to seconds) — is expanding globally to both domestic and cross-border payments in international markets.
This will mean that consumers and businesses globally that send or receive money by PayPal, Venmo or Xoom, or via Braintree, Hyperwallet and iZettle product solutions (all of which are part of PayPal), will now be able to opt for the Instant Transfer option to get electronic funds faster. PayPal's services use Visa Direct for making the payouts.
The service is a progression and expansion of Instant Transfers, which PayPal launched in March 2019, initially in the US.
The likes of Stripe and Square, as well as payments providers in other regions like Europe, have also launched products over the years to cut down the waiting time it typically takes for transferred funds to become usable by recipients over their platforms.
But in recent months that kind of feature has taken on an increased urgency. Businesses and individuals are living in leaner times, with many out of work and commerce gripped in general with a slowdown in buying and selling (despite the fact that some businesses, especially larger ones, have in fact seen a boost). All of that means that the turnaround time of needing to use the money that you receive from a contact has shortened, and more simply become significantly more necessary.
PayPal said that a recent survey it conducted found that 76% of small businesses in the US have reported that they are struggling with cash flow shortages, and 91% said the having real-time settlement could help with some of that.
There is another reason why PayPal is rolling this out globally and that is for more competitive edge in what is now a very crowded payments market. E-commerce, as we have pointed out before, is a very localised affair, with consumers and businesses in each country converging around their own preferred methods for making and receiving payments, which may or may not be the same as those in other markets (and that's before you consider the the places where money gets spent also vary massively country by country).
That is something that PayPal has tried to address both through the launch of its own services, as well as via investments in other interesting startups. By offering Instant Transfers within its own products, it's one way of bringing more people to using and transacting on its own platforms — which gives PayPal better returns even as it works on making PayPal a more flexible service that can be integrated and used with a number of other services, even those that seemingly compete with it.
“Sending money to loved ones or giving small businesses real-time access to earnings is critical during these challenging times,” said Jack Forestell, CPO, Visa, in a statement. “By partnering with PayPal on a global scale, we are bringing together two trusted brands to provide hundreds of millions of consumers and small businesses globally with quick and secure payment options that can help them maintain financial stability.”
Visa Direct has had a big boost in business already this year, Visa said, growing by some 80% in Q3 — underscoring the need for faster access to funds that are being sent virtually. Speeding up settlement is an important thing to get right for e-commerce businesses that are hoping to present themselves as a viable replacement or proxy for doing transactions the old fashioned way, in person, regardless of how the pandemic or social distancing measures play out in the longer term.
“Digital is quickly becoming the preferred way for people and businesses to move money,” said Jim Magats, SVP Omni Payments, PayPal, in a statement. “While the global pandemic has dramatically accelerated the shift to digital, we see this move to digital as a long-term change that will outlast the pandemic. We’re excited to expand our partnership with Visa to help more customers around the world get faster access to their funds, which is all the more critical during these challenging times.”