Seen from a user's perspective and without looking at its financial results, PayPal is dying. Let me explain... First a few important details:

  • I'm based in Europe, in France to be more precise.
  • my internet connectivity is 18 megabits/s download, 1 megabits/s upload ; not shared. Pretty fast.

Now, the situation:

  • PayPal is slower and slower every day. Often takes 10 to 20 seconds just to reach the web site's home page, 15 to 30 seconds to log in, 30 seconds to get a static page containing four links. It can take several minutes to download a two-months sales report (full text tab-separated). It's so long to download a 3-months or longer report that PayPal now says officially you can't download more than 3 months! And if you try (with the notable exception of the PDF report), your request will often - but not always - fail. PayPal is the only web service I am relying on for my business activity that is so slow. Even my french bank's web site works better...
  • PayPal is more painful every day. PayPal used to have a rather good customer service over telephone. The call center is now in Tunisia (I asked) and is almost unable to tell you anything except the corporate blah-blah present in their cheat sheets. Reaching a PayPal employee is almost impossible, even for a serious problem.
  • PayPal's web site is totally outdated. It has clearly grown in circles, based on an infrastructure that was probably enough six to ten years ago but is now absolutely underestimated. It's so slow it's sometimes almost unusable, its features' set is weak, it's web design should be entirely revamped, its architecture and site map is such a mess it's difficult to find valuable help or even sometimes information on PayPal's web site. If you sell goods on the Web, PayPal is now the weaker spot of your online architecture because it requires so much time and energy to find something or actually do something on their web site.

So what's going on at PayPal ? Is the once-little-startup-that-succeeded-and-became-big sleepy ? Is eBay investing enough in PayPal to let it evolve ?

Here's the problem for many people around me here in Europe who use PayPal: PayPal is simple to use but PayPal is now too slow to use. It's also now too expensive for the quality and modernity it offers. For a 29.26€ sale (excl. VAT), PayPal takes a 1.44 € fee. So 4.92%. That's ok for a service that works fast and is simple or trivial  to configure. But it's not the case any more and it becomes then too expensive.

At the same time, "PayPal drove strong payment and revenue growth while expanding margins". So what's going on at PayPal ?