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Next Generation PayPal Platform

Hi -- Delyn here. I'm posting a terrific update from one of our eBay platform architects, Farhang Kassaei. He did a great write-up of the PayPal session with Damon Hougland from the PayPal platform team that happened on Wednesday @ eBay DevCon. I think you'll recognize a lot of the platform requests, especially better integration between the eBay and PayPal platform.

Enjoy!

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My name is Farhang, and I am a platform architect @ eBay Marketplaces. We just opened up Selling Manager Pro to eBay developers and I wanted to see what our colleagues on the other side of Highway 85 were up to, so when I heard about the "Next Gen PayPal platform" session, I figured I'd check it out.

Now I have to say, I have been in so many "Next Generation ...." presentations that quite frankly I don't expect a lot when I attend one anymore. Human beings are simply not very good at predicting the future. This one however turned out much better than I expected.

For starter, Damon didn't have a presentation. Instead he opened with a story:

"... This blacksmith wanted to be the greatest archer in the world! Finally he decided to act on his dream and started looking for the greatest archer in the world to mentor and train him. He looked long and hard, and in one of this trips came across a tree with a target painted on it and a perfect dead-center shot. Right next to it, he saw another tree with a perfect shot. Then, tree after tree with targets painted on them and all with perfect shots in the center. "I have finally found the master," he though. He asked around to find the master archer. "He lives down in the woods some place," he was told. He went there and begged him to become his mentor and to teach him how he makes every shot a perfect shot. The master said, "It is easy son: I shoot arrows randomly and wherever they land I paint a target around them!"

Made perfect sense! He wants to see where the arrows land so that he can paint his target around them for the next year. It was clear this was not going to be another "Next Generation ...." I am happy to be here.

Just one thing, why didn't I think of that?

Damon's whole team was also there with a lot of Post-It Notes and Pens! They distributed Sticky notes among the attendees and ask people to write down what they would like to see.

The easel papers were filling up with sticky notes. Granted some of them were funny, but there were plenty of interesting ideas. Here is sample:

  • Better integration without redirect to PayPal: I'd love it and we get the same request at eBay, but there are security ramifications that are not simple to solve for now.
  • Support for Micropayment
  • Better and wider International presence
  • Ability to update tracking
  • More features for donate button
  • Shopping Cart for Multiple-Vendors
  • Widgets
    No elaboration from the originator, and I don't want to speculate what they meant. However there is a need for generic Payment APIs for the Widget/Gadget universe and PayPal certainly has something to contribute there. Open Source community, including Open Social, is working on such APIs, and PayPal should make sure its voice is heard.
  • Password-free authentication login
    I would love that. Technologies exist but none is compelling to consumers yet.
  • Better Sandbox
    Amen! We get that all the time as well. Sandbox is part of developer product development lifecycle. We have a responsibility to make sure it is up-to-date, available, and robust.
  • Project Echo for PayPal
    Now we are talking! We have asked our PayPal colleagues to write a few apps for Selling Manager Pro too.
  • PayPal on all gaming platforms including XBox, PS2 and WII.
  • Payroll processing
    Is PayPal really going there? But this is what I love about these sessions: You can figure out what developers are working on, and decide what is the best way to add value to what they do.
  • Multi-user account with different authorization level
    We get the same request all the time, as both eBay and PayPal moving up the market from individual users to business users we both have to have this.
  • Much more robust affiliate program
  • A developer shouts, "When I find a bug in your API, fix it and fix it fast! (I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! Google it, if you are not familiar with the movie Casablanca. )
  • Marketplace for developers to sell tools and code to other developers

Here is an interesting one from Damon himself:

  • Payment processing on devices like GPS, TV, Game Consoles, Kindle (maybe not!), Washing Machine, Vending Machines, Slot machines, Gas Stations.
    Wow, I wonder what is the size of those markets and how PayPal would penetrate all those devices, but isn't what developer community exactly for?

I see this theme all over the web: Platforms are not longer about enabling apps, they are about enabling businesses. It's the central theme for Selling Manager Applications (formerly Echo).

Finally, I got my hat into the ring too:

  • How about you guys do multi-tier commission payment so people (like eBay) can administer multi-tier affiliations much easier e.g. payout both publisher and widget developers when a publisher embed a widget on their site?
  • How about if PayPal told me what the risk profile of a transaction would be and what might make it safer BEFORE processing the payment?

Someone suggested using the PayPal email ID as identity and reputation outside PayPal, like when you visit an Open House.
Now that is really interesting: This house is shown only to eBay or PayPal user with minimum of 50 feedback!

Here is a good one: Lower transaction cost for lower merchant risk.

And finally what I was waiting for, Proximity Payments thru mobile phone, PayPal's original business plan.

All in all this was a very eye-opening session for me, a lot of good ideas from developers and a lot of entertainment. Damon deserves credit for conducting the meeting in a professional way and effectively soliciting ideas.

I wonder how many of these ideas they really get to do, but I am sure it helps a lot with coming up with their road map. eBay should probably do something like this next year (or maybe tomorrow in our feedback session).

- Farhang

June 22, 2009 in Developers Conference | Permalink