BFSIBusiness FunctionsLeadership & ManagementTechnology

“Advantages of switching to cloud is paramount for businesses”

In conversation with Phoram Mehta, APAC Chief InfoSec Officer, PayPal

What has been the digital strategy for payments sector as far as you are concerned? What technologies/innovations have you used to create the best customer experience needed?

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we think about future. One profound change has been the dramatic acceleration from physical to digital. It’s clear that digital payments have evolved from a nice-to-have capability to an essential service. In this environment, our products and services have become even more relevant.

The new reality has changed the way companies build relationships with their customers. Shifts in consumer behaviour, accelerated by COVID-19, require companies to improve customer experience through a new rhythm of positive interactions – delivered in the digital world.

Our business is skyrocketing and consumers signing up for PayPal are increasing day by day.  At that accelerated rate of growth it’s difficult to scale and provide good customer service. We are in the business of payments but more than that we are in the business of building trust. For sustainable commerce between two unknown people and entities trust in the platform is paramount.

Companies gain customer loyalty when they get great customer service – it is simple and delightful, and this extends to not only when the customer is using the product but also if he/she faces an issue with the product. When dealing with an issue what is most critical for customer loyalty is the ability of the company to show empathy. We manage close to 1 trillion dollars in total payment volume and hence are inherently subjected to fraud risk.

Cloud enables businesses to focus on their core competency. Furthermore, it enables global business, like PayPal to be closer to the markets they serve, thereby offering better service and reduced latency. In markets with strong data sovereignty requirements cloud can also help meet compliance requirements.

As a technology leader, what role do you think a good cloud strategy plays in market traction and optimization of resources?

PayPal was one of the first businesses to move money over the internet, securely and swiftly. Assisted by cloud computing, we want to extend access to the financial ecosystem across the globe.  Leveraging the public cloud makes it easier for our developers to experiment, extend our services to under-served markets, put our experiences closest to our customers, and support countless smaller retailers who benefit from the reach and capabilities of a global payments provider.

In migrating to the cloud, we led first with software development and testing, so our engineers could work faster on products that mattered to our customers and the enterprise, without having to worry about undifferentiated work like server management. Speed matters for both operational efficiency and customer delight. Even a few hundred unnecessary milliseconds in processing a transaction can mean customer dissatisfaction.

Processing payments in a secure, geo-distributed cloud network enables PayPal to minimize latency and provide high-availability. Cloud helps technology functions to enable business through speed of pushing new products, better performance, extended reach, and resiliency. From cost and flexibility perspective, partnering with an established cloud providers is a win-win strategy as long as security and governance are managed well.

How do you see the adoptions of the technology in Indian businesses (large and SMBs) and do you think it will help India to take the next big leap?

The MSME sector is the backbone of the economy and they have been most impacted by the pandemic. As digital payments adoption accelerates, consumers demand for contactless experiences is also increasing. The e-commerce sector has also seen a 3-5-year acceleration. A digital first strategy will help businesses of all sizes recover faster.  This also gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to go digital quickly and hence compete with the larger players. At PayPal, our focus is to offer these merchants and freelancers a platform which will help them grow their business globally.

The growth of start-ups in India has cloud to thank in some parts already. While larger businesses are still considering their migration plans, there is general agreement on the advantages of moving to cloud. The need, however, is not as clear just yet for domestic only businesses. Digital transformation projects were already underway and the pandemic will see many organizations embrace cloud for their internal as well as customer facing needs.

What will be your 5 key advise to technology leaders in making?

  1. The important learnings from our experience is to plan for redundancy – hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, and combinations are critical to think about from business perspective – especially for compliance, performance, resilience etc.
  2. Another important aspect will be the need to upskill the employee base. Having competent cloud engineers to help manage cloud deployments becomes even more important since now all the workloads are hosted elsewhere.
  3. Organizations need to implement strong monitoring and patch management program to manage vulnerabilities and weaknesses discovered in various cloud environments.
  4. Testing for disaster recovery and business continuity should be a key priority as businesses go fully digital. Planning for outages and incidents through testing exercises will differentiate organizations that are able to thrive due to cloud, from those that are unable to recover.
  5. Last but not the least, as businesses go digital, selecting partners and vendors for outsourcing of core services will require a focus on security in a way that reflects your standing on trust and protection of customer data.
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