PayPal: Company Profile

PayPal is the world's largest online payments brand, processing payments for millions of consumers everyday from thousands of ecommerce sites. But with all that wealth at their finger tips have they invested in ethics?

Last updated: February 2018

Annual Revenue£6.9 billion

Other BrandsPayPal is no longer owned by eBay


Company Score9 out of 20




Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

Operations in oppressive regimes

In 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the database and found that PayPal had operations in China, Russia and India, all of which were on the list of oppressive regimes at the time of writing. It also has operations in Israel.

Discrimination against Palestinians

In 2017 campaign group SumofUS launched a campaign against PayPal as it did not allow Palestinians in Gaza or the occupied West Bank to use its services. 

According to campaigners "PayPal does business in 203 countries around the world and is the default method of online payment for millions. But it won’t serve Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank -- even though it has no problem providing Israelis living in illegal settlements with the same service."

Campaigners descibed this as "shocking discrimination" that is "crippling the burgeoning Palestinian tech sector, and without PayPal, Palestinian tech companies are at a distinct disadvantage."


Fined over black market weapons deal

In 2015 it was reported that PayPal had agreed to pay a £5.2 million ($7.7 million) settlement over alleged sanctions violations which included allegations that it had processed payments for a man involved in the black market for nuclear weapons technology.

The allegations related to £4700 ($7000) worth of transactions which involved an account of a Turkish man on a US blacklist for trading weapons of mass destruction who had been blacklisted in 2009 for his alleged involvement in a sales network for nuclear technology operated by a Pakistani scientist. This had provided ‘one-stop shopping’ for countries including Iran, Libya and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, the US Treasury said.

PayPal had a screener which was supposed to catch blacklisted persons. At first this had failed, but once it was working again the alerts were dismissed by staff, the Treasury said. It has since taken remedial action and fully co-operated with the investigation, the Treasury said.

No public policy on using green energy

In February 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the PayPal site for evidence that it was using green energy to power its data centres. No evidence of this could be found.

According to Greenpeace's Clicking Clean report, the IT sector was estimated to consume about 7% of the world’s global electricity and was predicted to increase threefold in global internet traffic by 2020, resulting in the internet's energy footprint rising further, fueled both by our individual consumption of data and by the spread of the digital age to more of the world's population.

It was therefore felt important that online brands should be using renewable energy sources to power their products.

The company also had no public-facing environmental report or policy.

No information on the database

Worst Ethical Consumer rating for likely use of tax avaoidance strategies

PayPal had a number of subsidiaries in tax havens, including several high risk company types. For example:

  • Paypal 2 SARL, Luxembourg
  • PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. , Luxembourg
  • Paypal International Treasury Centre SARL, Luxembourg

Therefore the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for tax avoidance strategies.

Donations don't reach charities

According to the Guardian,  a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago, USA in 2017 alleged charitable donations made through PayPal’s Giving Fund platform may never reach their intended recipients.

PayPal’s charitable platform, which the company says raised more than $7bn in 2016, claims to allow individuals to give directly to “over a million charities”. But only a fraction of those charities actually receive the donations, the lawsuit alleges, because they aren’t registered with PayPal. Donations made to non-registered charities are held by PayPal for six months before being transferred to other not-for-profit organizations, according to the suit.

Excessive remuneration

In 2018 Bloomberg reported that Paypal CEO Daniel H. Schulman was paid $18,934,341 in 2016. Ethical Consumer considered anything over £1million as excessive.

Lobbying spend and political donations

According to the Open Secrets website viewed by Ethical Consumer in 2018 the company spent over $800,000  lobbying the US government in 2018. This was down from almost $1million the year before. The lobbying was mainly on banking, telecommunications and tax.

In 2016 PayPal paid a total of $201,786 to US political parties, $140,357 to Democrats and $56,821 to Republicans.


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