PayPal CEO and President Daniel Schulman

PayPal CEO and President Daniel Schulman said in a “fireside chat” during the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Virtual Conference that the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital payments by “maybe three to five years.” He believes 80% to 85% of transactions globally will be digital moving forward.

“Companies that start to move into digital, like small businesses, are seeing their sales grow as opposed to small businesses that are not in which they are shrinking,” said Schulman.

“Even when people come in store, they’re going to be using digital forms of checkout,” he added. “Something like 40% to 70% of consumers say they want to use cash less.”

Furthermore, he said that major retailers have told him there has been a significant shift in consumer buying behavior from the past year with 70 percent buying in-store and 30 percent buying online to a full reversal of 30/70 favoring online this year. This shift includes both online commerce and curbside pickup.

This shift was also made apparent in the latest eMarketer report on Kroger entering the top-10 in ecommerce sales and Walmart expanding its lead over eBay.

Schulman also noted that about two-thirds of those retail CEOs expect the behavior to continue. “You’ve got new demographics online learning how to use digital” and “it won’t go back to the way it was,” he added.

As far as PayPal expansion into cryptocurrency, he believes it is, “more akin to a financial instrument in which you can use to conduct commerce.” That may take some convincing even with Bitcoin’s recent rally being fueled by other market forces, it is still very volatile and would need a big leap in confidence for many consumers and small business owners.

Note: Schulman quotes are from transcript excerpts published by SeekingAlpha and S&P Global.

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