The future of money

28 Apr 2011

PayPal’s head of Irish operations Louise Phelan warns 66pc of Irish firms don’t engage in e-commerce despite a booming global digital economy.

It’s funny how the technology world can go full circle. A decade ago, the world’s biggest e-payments company PayPal – founded as a merger by two of today’s most powerful Silicon Valley investors Peter Thiel and Elon Musk – was focused on sending electronic payments by email and the potential of beaming wireless payments between PalmPilot devices.

Today, PayPal has more than 90m active customers in 190 countries transacting in 24 currencies via the internet. Its parent company eBay, which bought PayPal in 2002, this year reported $2bn worth of transactions by mobile commerce via devices like the iPhone, and predicts $4bn in m-commerce transactions in 2011.

As I ponder the numbers, Louise Phelan, the Irish woman responsible for managing much of PayPal’s global operations, tells me about PayPal’s forthcoming near field communications (NFC) mobile wallet and an app it has created called PayPal Bump that allows iPhone users to give each other cash by bumping the phones off one another.

“Cash will be a thing of the past,” says Phelan, who joined PayPal in 2006 as a senior manager in charge of compliance.

Read more of ‘The future of money’ at Digital 21.

Louise Phelan will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Irish Internet Association annual conference at the Aviva Stadium on 12 May.

For the past two years, Silicon Republic has run a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.

The website for Digital 21 provides a forum for all those interested in accelerating the development of Ireland’s digital economy.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years