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The US-headquartered PayPal, in its current form, was founded in 1999 by Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. One of the earliest companies in the fintech space, PayPal’s primary offering is facilitating online payments in countries which support online money transfers as an alternative to traditional methods like checks and money orders. In 2005, PayPal established its office in India and currently operates out of three cities – Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
We caught up with Chandramouliswaran V, Senior Director and India Site Lead, PayPal, to understand the company’s operations in India and its expansion strategy.
AIM: How did you begin your journey?
Chandramouliswaran V: I studied statistics at the undergraduate level when the subject was not very popular. After completing five years of education in this field, after my master’s studies, I started working as a software programmer. I did that for a year before resuming my studies and getting a PhD in Statistics from Wharton University. I realised that data-enabled storytelling is an important part of making good business decisions. My next couple of professional roles revolved around loyalty analytics and quantitative training.
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Since 2009, I have been working with PayPal, where I have worked extensively on risk analytics. I also went into data engineering and subsequently transitioned to a full-fledged product and technology role. I did that for a couple of years, after which I returned to data analytics and automation strategy that is focused on the financial crime space.
AIM: Tell us about PayPal’s entry into India and how has the journey been over the years.
Chandramouliswaran V: When PayPal came to India, the focus was on the engineering aspects of data science. Over the last three to four years, we have shifted from data science engineering to creating a strong data science team. Right now, our India team is building data science models for all the international markets. I can give an example of one such sophisticated model that the PayPal India team developed. PayPal operates in 200 plus markets, and we cater to over 29 million customers. Last year alone, we facilitated USD 1.25 trillion of total payment volume and touched north of USD 25 billion in revenue. Now, for an organisation that is operating at such a scale, minding the risk losses becomes very important. To this end, in 2015, we created a loss forecasting function by leveraging sophisticated time series plus ML models. So, I spirited that development and creation of that function that continues to grow even today, where we forecast all of PayPal’s transaction loss from sitting here in India.
AIM: Tell us about the PayPal India team.
Chandramouliswaran V: PayPal India has been the fastest-growing centre. In the country, we have three tech centres – Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, which cater to all the international market’s needs. We have 6500 plus employees who are working in different domains that include – product engineering, programme management, data engineering that spans both public and private cloud, and other cloud engineering teams. A lot of our engineering teams focus on infrastructure, developer experiences, data movements, reporting business intelligence and reporting at scale.
We have a strong data science engineering team. The members of such a team come with a niche set of engineering skills, which are leveraged to automate a lot of model building efforts. This is a very crucial task for a company like ours, which deals with 2-3 petabytes of data every day! Our data science team alone has over 100 people, which grew even during the time of the pandemic. Our India offices have or are about to open 800 plus positions in engineering, product analytics, data science, data science, engineering and so on.
AIM: What is PayPal’s growth strategy in India?
Chandramouliswaran V: As I said, we have close to 1000 positions that are open, and we look to hire from universities laterally across all levels. That is only going to continue to grow and exist, so there’s going to be no dearth of positions that are going to be available at PayPal. While we are currently located in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad based physical offices, as our future work continues to evolve, we will also be looking at different models to engage with our employees better. India continues to be a very, very important market. India’s position in the cross border market is very vital, where PayPal is helping a lot of MSMEs to grow their business. We are also closely working with the government to smoothly facilitate this.