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Dealing with disruptions, the PayPal way

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 16, 2016
The only way forward is to innovate, and this applies to even disruptors.

Sri Shivananda, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of PayPal
Sri Shivananda, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of PayPal

As one of the first companies to marry financial services and technology, PayPal is an early disruptor of the finance industry, specifically in the area of payments. However, as change is the only constant, even disruptors can be disrupted. CIO Asia spoke to Sri Shivananda, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of PayPal, to find out how the company is dealing with disruptions to remain competitive.

In his role, Shivananda leads a team responsible for the company's secure, reliable and scalable global infrastructure and strategic core platform, which is the foundation that enables PayPal to deliver innovative products and services to consumers and merchants all over the world.

Prior to his appointment as SVP and CTO, Shivananda was Vice President of Global Platform and Infrastructure, directing his team of technologists to drive massive growth at scale across a completely disruptive payments platform. He was responsible for all core technologies covering PayPal's data centres, internal private cloud, online and offline data infrastructure, internal developer frameworks and tools, and various platform services.

CIO Asia: Can you share with us PayPal's overall goal(s) and how that translates into the company's approach to technology?  

PayPal's Shivananda: Innovation has always been in PayPal's DNA. Our founders realised that digital technologies could help people move and manage their money in a simple and secure way. Since then, we've been focused on helping consumers and businesses realise their potential by helping to increase financial inclusion, growing opportunities and facilitating commerce worldwide. Technology is a key enabler that allows us to reduce friction and serve our customers online, via mobile and in stores. To continue being a leader in fintech, we realise that we need to be constantly innovating while focusing on the three S's:

  • Scale. This is because we manage more than 42 petabytes of data generated from 188 million active customer accounts in more than 200 markets globally. In the second quarter of 2016, we processed US$10,900 total payment volume per second.
  • Speed. For instance, payments skyrocketed to US$50,000 payments per second on last Cyber Monday. We spent months predicting and preparing for this increase, and our next-generation platform allowed us to expand capacity to meet this quadrupled peak, without building more data centres.
  • Security, which has always been important to us. When PayPal pioneered digital payments 18 years ago, email technology to keep customers secure from bad actors wasn't in place. We helped to define cutting-edge email standards such as DMARC, which are still in place today to combat spoofs.

    Since then, we have founded initiatives like FIDO, which promotes the use of biometrics and secure authentication in mobile devices. Recently, we've rolled out OneTouch to offer consumers a secure way to transact from a trusted device without having to enter and re-enter passwords.

    Besides that, PayPal established a bug bounty programme in 2012 to encourage the security community to report vulnerabilities, partner to patch them and in turn receive a reward. This programme has been hugely successful for PayPal, and now boasts 1,500 members with US$2 million payments made. Working with a community of experts helps us constantly improve our products, and thus offer better protection for our customers. 


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