PayPal goes back in time with 'PYPL' ticker symbol

The payment company, which has been spun off by eBay, will trade on the Nasdaq under the same ticker symbol it used more than a decade ago.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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PayPal Here, a credit card reader, is just one of many ways the company is competing in digital payments. PayPal

It won't be long before PayPal goes back to its familiar home on the Nasdaq.

PayPal will begin trading on the exchange in the second half of 2015 under the ticker symbol "PYPL," the company announced Thursday. The ticker is the same symbol PayPal used when it traded on the Nasdaq briefly after it went public in 2002. Soon after, the company was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion and became a wholly owned subsidiary of the online auction site.

The company's rebirth on the Nasdaq is the result of eBay's decision last year to spin off PayPal -- a move that eBay said is on track to be completed in the third quarter of 2015. Activist eBay investor Carl Icahn had been arguing for months that PayPal was being held back by eBay, as the payment platform continued to grow in size and contribute heavily to the auction site's financial performance. When eBay announced the decision, it said PayPal generated $7.2 billion in revenue over the previous 12-month period. eBay generated more than $17 billion during the same period.

Once it officially goes independent, however, PayPal will need to navigate what is increasingly becoming a threatening digital-payment space. For years, PayPal was the dominant force in online payments, but it's since been met with a never-ending line of competitors, ranging from Amazon Payments to Apple Pay to Samsung Pay and Android Pay. China-based Alibaba has its own alternative, called Alipay.

Meanwhile, smaller companies like Square are targeting PayPal as they angle for dominance in the mobile-payments arena.

Mobile payments are expected to explode in popularity by next year, growing to $27.5 billion in US transactions from last year's $3.5 billion, according to market research firm eMarketer. The number of users of mobile-payment services in the US will jump to 36.2 million next year, more than doubling from 2014.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman acknowledged the competition in a blog post announcing the ticker symbol. He said his company is operating in what is "possibly the greatest period of change and transformation in the history of money and financial services." While he didn't name competitors by name, he fired a shot over their bow, saying his company is in the best position to be the leader in digital payments.

"We open this new chapter in PayPal's journey with an unparalleled set of assets and advantages," he wrote. "We are an industry leader in everything from consumer trust and merchant partnerships to risk management, compliance and customer service, all through a unique two-sided global network that brings consumers and retailers together in a way that no one else can. We have achieved all of this at a worldwide scale that would be difficult for anyone else to replicate."

Schulman said his company has handled more than 18 billion digital transactions totaling over $1 trillion in payments since 2002. Still, the competition facing PayPal is stiffer than ever and the giants it's competing against -- Apple and Google, among others -- are looking to make their presence felt.

Also on Thursday, eBay announced the makeup of the boards of directors for both companies after PayPal is split off. The members of PayPal's board will include Schulman, eBay CEO John Donahoe (as chairman), eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, Intuit founder Scott Cook and Icahn Capital's managing director, Jonathan Christodoro.

Update May 15 at 5:29 a.m. PT: Added information on PayPal's board of directors and the expected timing for the completion of the PayPal spinoff.