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In a WWD-produced webinar called “Recovery & Resurgence,” Susan Schmidt, vice president, U.S. consumer credit at PayPal, joined WWD executive editor Arthur Zaczkiewicz to share insights on the fintech space, company values, shopping trends and the current retail environment.

PayPal has 325 million active accounts, and 7.5 million new accounts that were activated in April alone as digital payments continue to rise in popularity. According to a recent survey, 56 percent of U.S. PayPal Credit users are more likely to shop at retailers again if they offer PayPal Credit.

“One of the things that I find really interesting is when we talk to our customers, more than half of them say they’re more likely to shop at a retailer where PayPal Credit is accepted, just the acceptance that the brand provides such security and safety to the consumers,” Schmidt said. “And the other thing is PayPal Credit has an always-on, zero percent, no interest offer for six months. Our customers are habituated to knowing that that offer is available.”

As a company, democratizing financial services is imperative to the overall business.

“We care really deeply about democratizing financial services, doing well by doing what’s right, and being a champion for small business. And I’ve been talking about this a lot over the last six months,” Schmidt said. “And the thing that makes me so proud is I could sit here for hours, and give you examples of how this shows up in our day-to-day life at PayPal, and there’s really no test, like a pandemic, to your values.”

In line with PayPal’s values, Daniel Schulman, the company’s chief executive officer, has publicly stated commitment to having zero layoffs due to the pandemic or the COVID-19 crisis. PayPal is also one of the first fintech companies to participate in the paycheck protection program, aligning with its goals of championing small businesses.

“When we say small business, we really truly mean small businesses,” Schmidt said. “Compared to some of the other [programs] you may have heard about, we’ve processed over 239,000 applications today and facilitated the funding of $1.6 billion in loans. Fifty-thousand small businesses have been recipients of the work that we’ve done, and the average loan amounts have been $31,000.”

PayPal has also played a role in facilitating the movement of cash across its platform in a digital manner. The demand for this, Schmidt said, has gone up as people looked to gain access to a stimulus check without fees.

“We have a platform through PayPal where we enable billions of dollars, through multiple crises to be raised for charitable events,” Schmidt said. “In this case, we have an initiative across the globe where consumers can donate money to charities who are fighting the COVID crisis on the front lines. And this is fee-free, so the money goes directly to the charity. And it really is something that we’re proud of, and the number I heard was, over a billion thus far, on this particular front.”

With the demand for digital payments growing quickly during the pandemic, the PayPal platform is being used increasingly in new ways. “This has clearly been a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a catalyst for permanent and fundamental changes in our daily lives,” Schmidt said. “Consumer attitudes are changing as a result and retailers are going to be focused on recovery and how to really thrive in a post-pandemic world.”

With more than 43 percent of consumers reporting a loss of income during the pandemic, and over 40 percent adjusting to working from home, consumer priorities have had major shifts.

“One of the things we were seeing before the pandemic was staging champions change in shopping trends, a shift to digital payments, a shift to digital shopping in general,” Schmidt said. “What’s really happened though is those things that were moving along a slower adoption curve have now accelerated and have become something that we expect will be extremely likely to continue. And when we talk to our customers about it 31 percent said they’re likely or extremely likely to continue using things like grocery pickup or food delivery post-pandemic and over 200 percent increase in curbside delivery. I think that really highlights that the world has is rapidly changing.”

As a result, PayPal Credit is seeing a higher demand for buy now, pay later. Additionally, PayPal recently announced contactless payment via QR code in the PayPal app, which provides consumers the ability to conduct a safe contactless payment method face to face without having to touch a keypad. This new method is available to merchants now.

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