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

By Chris Mills on at

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 early on Friday morning, 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 [2am GMT], 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 centre power outage and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But some back-of-the-napkin maths can help show the scale of the loss. Last year, PayPal processed £417 million per day, or £16.8 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.