PayPal's Two-Hour Outage Could Have Cost Tens of Millions of Dollars

Despite some slightly questionable practices, PayPal continues to be the best (or only) way for millions of online businesses to take your money. So, an outage, even just a few hours long, can cost millions.


PayPal’s services were down for about two hours on Thursday evening, caused by a problem in one of PayPal’s data centres. PayPal didn’t elaborate on the outage, just saying:

“The network experienced an intermittent interruption during a period of relatively low traffic. At 7pm PT, the majority of volume is in APAC [Asia and Pacific countries] not in EMEA [Europe and the Middle East] or USA. This interruption was caused by a data center power outage and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But some back-of-the-napkin math can help show the scale of the loss. Last year, PayPal processed $644 million per day, or $26 million an hour. So even at a period of ‘low volume’, two hours of PayPal outage translates to tens of millions of non-processed payments.

For some merchants, that might not be such a big deal—PayPal’s just one of many different ways to hand over digital money. But for some big-name sites like eBay, PayPal’s really the only way to handle transactions.



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