PayPal’s New Leader to Bring Entrepreneurial Vibe to Payments

David Marcus’s self-proclaimed interests include mobile, payments, technology and getting stuff done.

True to his word, the entrepreneur has done a lot in the past eight months.

He sold his start-up to eBay for $240 million; became PayPal’s VP of Mobile; and launched PayPal’s mobile payments service, called Here. Now, he’s been named president of PayPal. The position opened up in January, after Scott Thompson stepped down to become CEO of Yahoo.

Now, with his appointment, Marcus’s list of things to do grows a lot longer.

In an interview, eBay CEO John Donohoe emphasized that what PayPal needs more than ever is an entrepreneur at the helm, one who can take advantage of all the opportunities that lie ahead.

“It’s the right time for PayPal to combine the global scale and reach with a product guy and entrepreneur like David, who is going to take PayPal to the next level,” he said.

PayPal, which is eBay’s fastest-growing division, is pushing into two new hot areas: Mobile payment and point-of-sale.

Mobile payments are taking off as people shop online from their phones and tablets, while offline is a massive opportunity dominated by the Visas and MasterCards of the world.

It’s hard to put a dollar figure on the market opportunity, but PayPal tries putting it in perspective.

In mobile alone, it expects payment volume to hit $7 billion this year, up from $150 million in 2009. For point-of-sale, it will double PayPal’s $70 billion business if it captures 2 percent of all sales. If it captures 4 percent, it will triple it.

Before joining PayPal, Marcus was the founder and CEO of Zong, a mobile payments company that was building a platform that allowed users to charge purchases to their carrier bill. Today, PayPal uses Zong’s platform for mobile payments, and is also leveraging it for its offline payments business. For instance, when using PayPal to pay at the register, users don’t need to have their wallet or phone with them. They can simply enter a phone number and PIN to pay. That technology is live today at more than 2,000 Home Depots.

Donahoe said he was impressed by Marcus when eBay was still in talks to acquire Zong.

“He really felt deeply that if he could get Zong to PayPal’s scale that we could do extraordinary things,” Donohoe said. “From the moment he joined, it’s been fun to watch an innovator who’s been recognizing that he can innovate at scale.”

Over the past seven months, Marcus has been charged with the launch of PayPal Here, which allows small-to-medium-size merchants to accept payments using a small dongle plugged into a smartphone. The service, which launched earlier this month, is nearly identical to a service offered by Square, a start-up founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.

Marcus said he was really impressed with how fast it was to launch such a complicated product that required encryption and compliance on a global scale. In the first 24 hours, the company signed up more than 1,000 businesses an hour for Here.

“The organization came together, and we built it really quickly,” he said. “I’m excited in this new capacity. If we innovate at scale, we can change the world in a meaningful way.”

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