PayPal debuts Funds Now, instant payouts for sellers on its platform

PayPal, now with 19.5 million businesses and 250 million customers using its payment rails to sell and buy goods and services, is today taking the wraps off a new feature that it hopes will bring more transactions to its platform. The company is launching Funds Now, instant payouts to businesses using PayPal for their transactions.

The feature will come as standard to all companies in good standing with PayPal — that is, with no complaints or fraud flags on their accounts. It’s eventually going to be rolled out globally, although at first it will go live in the US, UK and Australia, where PayPal has already rolled out a pilot of the service to 1 million customers. There is no upper or lower limit on FundsNow payouts, and they will apply to any payments made via PayPal, mobile or otherwise.

FundsNow and its instant fund availability is a big step ahead for PayPal and the businesses that use it to power their payments. Bill Ready, EVP and COO of PayPal, said in an interview that typically funds from a payment to a seller could days or weeks to come into a businesses’ account, in line with how things typically work in the payments industry.

“That means several days or weeks of sales held up that you can’t reinvest back into the business,” he said.

E-commerce companies worry a lot about shopping cart abandonment whenever there is too much friction in the buying process, but fund payouts is potentially another sticky issue. Businesses may be less inclined to transact online because of the time it takes for payments to get released. Conversely, if they know that payouts can be made in seconds, they may be more likely to encourage customers to use PayPal to pay for goods or services.

But PayPal isn’t the first to turn on instant payout features. Stripe, one of its rivals, started to implement instant payout features back in 2016.

Typically, the reason why there have been delays in paying out the funds in the past is because payment providers like PayPal would have used the time to mitigate fraud and risk, using the period to run checks. (Fraudulent transactions will still be covered by PayPal’s fraud protection.) Over time, it has amassed a large trove of data to start predicting patterns of behavior on the platform and it’s using more of that to speed up the process of assessing transactions.

Notably, PayPal also backed and eventually acquired a startup in June, Simility, which is a specialist in AI-based fraud and risk management. The two companies did not specify at the time how PayPal would be using Simility’s technology, but today’s launch of FundsNow could be one hint of where that tech has ended up.

Marketplaces — which will be one of the primary places where FundsNow will come into its own on the platform — account for some of the highest volumes of transactions for PayPal. Once a part of eBay, but more recently spun off into an independent company, Ready said that PayPal still is the biggest payment processor on eBay, although eBay only accounts for about 12 percent of all of PayPal’s transactions globally.