PayPal’s Fernando Moreno Talks Startup Essentials, Payments and E-Commerce Without Borders

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On the eve of Startup Essentials Bootcamp in Santiago, we feature an interview with PayPal's Fernando Moreno on the lay of the land in e-commerce in LatAm.

Another edition of Startup Essentials Bootcamp is set to take place in Latin America this week, and this time around, Chile is its destination. The event will take place on the 15th, 16th and 17th of January in Santiago.

The proposal: a series of practical workshops on innovation and entrepreneurship during which participants will achieve real sales with real clients over just three days. The Startup Essentials experience has produced attractive results in other editions in Mexico, Colombia and Coquimbo, Chile. And now, it’s going to put Santiago entrepreneurs to the test. (5 Reasons You Won’t Want to Miss Startup Essentials Bootcamp Santiago)

The event is sponsored by PayPal, the world’s most prominent online payment system. With over 137 million active accounts across 193 markets and in 26 currencies, it processes an estimated eight million payments each day. The company will lend its staff and executives to the event to mentor participants on approaching e-commerce and payments.

At the Bogotá edition of the Startup Essentials Bootcamp last November, PulsoSocial spoke with Fernando Moreno, who heads PayPal’s market development efforts in Latin America. He discussed the company’s growth in the region and what it means for startups and small businesses.

PayPal’s expansion in emerging markets is something relatively new. The company’s focus in the region, apart from Brazil and Mexico, is on a borderless commerce landscape worth roughly US$100 billion. PayPal’s strategy is concentrated on two main groups: Latin American consumers looking to benefit from the offers, variety and savings available online, and local merchants hoping to expand internationally. “There’s a big opportunity there,” Moreno reflected.

There is a lot of room for growth among both consumers and merchants. “We are looking at innovative solutions especially in the merchant area, with certain alliances that we’ve concreted recently with some of the region’s actors in places like Costa Rica and Chile, and we’re considering how to replicate that model in other countries,” he explained.

While PayPal only has regional offices in Brazil and Mexico, it has upped its involvement throughout the region at events like Startup Essentials and through alliances and initiatives that make its presence felt. At the moment, we don’t perceive a need to have local offices to help electronic commerce service providers,” Moreno clarified.

And though cross-border commerce seems to be increasing in countries like Colombia, the product still needs to be improved. Moreno remarked, “In the case of countries like Chile and Costa Rica, where there is a significant barrier in repatriating funds in the country, we’ve solved the problem and are seeing how we can continue coming up with solutions through the product for clients.”

Looking to Startups for Innovation

During the third quarter of 2013, PayPal processed US$44 billion through its platform and added five million active users. For Moreno, that’s proof of the platform’s innovative, robust and advanced nature. In the mobile realm, PayPal registered US$14 million in transactions in 2012 and projected US$20 billion in 2013. “If you forget that this didn’t exist four years ago, you lose a sense of what these numbers mean,” Moreno emphasized.

Part of PayPal’s innovation strategy comes through its identity as an open platform where developers and entrepreneurs can connect and develop solutions, as “they’re the ones who know what consumers need.”

Moreno highlighted what happened in Costa Rica and Chile, where retrieving funds from local banks proved problematic:

Developing that within the PayPal platform is something that we obviously can do and have done in a number of countries, but a way of using that development is, with the concept of the open platform, telling a local actor, “You can develop the application, we’re going to expose you to the APIs so that you can integrate them into this application.” They’re effectively solving a problem for local merchants.

Startups and small businesses are essential in this and important sources of innovation – something that’s evidenced in the possibilities entrepreneurs and developers now face. “Something that I shared with the Startup Essentials Bogotá audience was foregoing focusing on local clients initially and instead going global from the start. We have clients in the region developing applications that, from the very beginning, are thought out for global consumers. Now, you’ve got the chance to arrive at a global audience from the start,” Moreno elaborated.

E-commerce and electronic payment systems are major opportunities to reach the world. Is your startup ready to jump on the chance at hand? Find out at Startup Essentials Santiago, which starts tomorrow. Still haven’t got your ticket? Buy it today, and get a 10% discount using the promo code PULSOSOCIAL at checkout.

This text has been adapted and translated by Emily Stewart from its original Spanish publication