PayPal records surge in revenue and payment volumes in 2020

4 Feb 2021

Image: © sitthiphong/

The digital payments company’s earnings surpassed analyst expectations with e-commerce demand soaring during the pandemic.

PayPal saw revenues in the last quarter of 2020 soar as the payments giant enjoyed an upsurge in user activity during the pandemic.

An accelerated uptake of digital payments and e-commerce resulted in the company adding 72.7m accounts in 2020 in the “strongest performance in PayPal’s history”, the company said.

It generated fourth quarter revenues of $6.12bn, its highest quarterly revenue figure to date, with operating income of $963m.

It ended 2020 with net revenues of $21.45bn and operating income of $3.29bn, up more than 20pc year on year. The fourth quarter saw particular growth thanks in part to holiday spending.

“PayPal delivered record performance in 2020 as businesses of all sizes have digitised in the wake of the pandemic,” chief executive Dan Schulman said.

“In this historic year, we released more products than ever before and have dramatically scaled our acceptance worldwide, giving our 377m consumer and merchant accounts even more reasons to use our platform.”

Total payment volume (TPV), the metric for measuring the value of transactions made through PayPal, grew more than 35pc from the fourth quarter of 2019 to $277bn in the fourth quarter of 2020. TPV for Venmo, its payment app, grew 60pc to $47bn.

In May last year, it expanded its use of QR codes for contactless payments in stores and said around 600,000 merchants are now using QR codes. The company also scaled its buy now, pay later (BNPL) functions, another payments area that has seen growth in the pandemic.

In 2020, PayPal added features for buying and selling bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, which it said also helped to drive more user activity.

PayPal said it expects revenue and TPV to grow around 19-20pc each in 2021 and to add a further 50m users this year.

The company is eyeing up a greater market share in China. It recently took full ownership of GoPay, making it the first foreign company to own a payments business in China outright.

“That obviously gives us a very strong legal foundation for the business we have there and for the business that we intend to drive,” Schulman told analysts.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin