PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

Ask the CEO, All About PayPay!


Tidbits not available anywhere else – we asked the CEO, Mr. Nakayama! Read this and find out everything about PayPay both present & future!?

Ichiro Nakayama

PayPay Corporation President & Representative Director, CEO, Corporate Officer

Joined IDC Frontier Inc.
Director, IDC Frontier Inc.
Joined Yahoo Japan Corporation
President & Representative Director, IDC Frontier Inc.
Executive Vice President & Director, Ikyu Corporation
Executive Vice President & Representative Director, Ikyu Corporation
Chairman & Representative Director, Ikyu Corporation
Corporate Officer, EVP, President of Reservation Services Group,
Commerce Company, Yahoo Japan Corporation
President & Representative Director, CEO, Corporate Officer,
PayPay Corporation (current position)
Managing Executive Officer, PayPay Group Head,
Yahoo Japan Corporation
Director, Z Financial Corporation (current position)
Director, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Corporation (current position)

“Evaluation of PayPay” that the president thinks

First, please tell us your assessment of our service up until now since our launch 2 years ago.

We’ve achieved more than was expected, since we have already met various targets well in advance of our business plan that was created in the beginning. The cashless payment market has been driven by credit cards for nearly 50 years, but the market size was only about 60 trillion yen out of an estimated 300 trillion yen in consumer spending. I think PayPay was able to properly seize the wide open opportunity that spread right in front of us.​​​​​​​​

The big thing is that we were able to secure the “top of mind awareness” among people, in which PayPay has become equivalent to mobile payment and cashless payment. We have remained in the top position for “the service that comes to mind when you hear cashless payment,” surpassing credit cards (*Based on PayPay’s own survey. Asked as an open question without any choices given). I actually feel it in my bones how important it is in being the first ones to come to mind. Whenever there are cashback measures such as the time when the government’s cashback program started, people instantly came to us because we were at the top. On the other hand, I also feel the responsibility that we have to take on as the top player. Being No. 1, whenever the industry is facing a headwind, PayPay will have to stand up and provide necessary explanations. That’s the responsibility I feel.​​​​​​

What is your vision for PayPay after becoming No. 1?

In interviews with the media, I often say, “We will become a Super App,” but in fact, I think that “becoming a Super App” is not a goal but is something that will happen as a result.

For example, I want to make PayPay a service that makes people think, “I’ll just open PayPay and find out” or ” PayPay will probably solve this” when they are in trouble or when they are seeking for something more convenient. I want PayPay to become an indispensable tool in the daily lives of everyone. I think that is indeed the state in which an app becomes a “Super App”.​​​​

*Super App : A comprehensive app that can be used in all aspects of our daily lives. PayPay will not be just a payment service but will become a “Super App” by providing a wide range of functions that make life convenient, such as finance and offline reservation features. ​​

Specifically speaking, what kind of service or tool would PayPay become?

Even now, we provide many features other than just payment, such as “PayPay Pickup” that allows you to receive take-out food items without having to wait, or booking a taxi, to name a few. Besides these, we would like to keep developing and offering services for various use cases such as subscriptions and other convenient features that we wish to have in our daily lives.​​

I especially think there is opportunity for change in industries and services that have not changed for many years, for good and for bad. For example, I feel there’s room to carve out a share in the financial services sector with our tech.

What is it that you value as the CEO to drive change?

I try to upkeep a general environment that encourages employees to take on challenges. PayPay has now grown into a company of a few thousand employees, but I want us to forever remain as a start-up company. We are building an unprecedented service with unprecedented challenges, and failing along the way is inevitable. What’s important is to quickly stand back up again after falling, so that’s why I think maintaining a start-up spirit is critical.​​

Generally speaking, major corporations have many internal & external constraints preventing them from driving the change they desire. PayPay, being a newborn company, has no constraints. Not being bound by anything is a massive asset. It’s possible to drive major change and transformation by creating a service from new angles and from the user’s standpoint, all free of constraint.​​

Our service has continued to grow over the past 2 years. And yet, if we take to defense, other new players will soon take us down. My view is that it’s important to deny our success rather than dwell on it, so that we can continue to focus on what can be done for our users & merchants as the times change.​​

At the same time, I expect the whole team to be fully aware of the fact that we are leaders of the cashless industry, and to maintain being model members of society.

Culture Clashes Leads to Competency

What is PayPay’s strength as an organization, which facilitates creating appealing services?

I would have to say diversity. The company initially consisted of a motley of members from SoftBank, Yahoo! JAPAN and Paytm, but recently, we’re hiring much more employees directly, resulting in further diversity.​​

We have team members from over 30 different countries, many of whom have diverse backgrounds. There’s always something new to learn thanks to that, which contributes to personal growth too.​​

Take any personnel system for example. Being true to diversity inevitably means thinking about – on a global standard – whether the very Japanese-style personnel systems that have been in place are suitable for PayPay. This equates to an opportunity, a chance to improve the system and make it better. The more diverse, the more experience can be gained that other companies can’t, and the more “learnings” the team gets access to.​​

I certainly see many colleagues who respect diversity, who respect each other in the workplace.

Yes, we’re doing well now, but it was not something that was intentional. Back when we started, it wasn’t all peaches & cream. We were witness to every cultural clash you could possibly think of, throwing words like “I have no idea what you mean” or “you’re wrong” in each other’s face (laughs). I mean, how could you not though, when you’re speaking different languages and you don’t know what the other person is saying.

Being in the midst of all that, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how it transformed into the general emphasis on “valuing diversity”. One thing I can say though is that when you interact with various people, there are those moments in which you can go beyond your own limited experience, step outside the box, and gain new perspective, and I think a build-up of such small accomplishments has resulted in a culture entailing mutual respect and bettering each other. PayPay has made multiple attempts at new things over the past 2 years, but I think allowing diverse opinions to clash against each other has helped create what we have today.​​​​

Talent with Professions Applicable Anywhere

On a different note, PayPay has adopted a completely performance-based evaluation system, which is quite rare for a company in Japan. Why did you choose to do so?

At the end of the day, each team member is expected to deliver results and contribute to the performance of the business. By that token, I think it’s only natural that a person’s salary is based on their level of contribution. It’s something that is so obvious – even after being asked “why I adopted a completely performance-based system”, that I don’t have much to say. PayPay has a flat organization unlike other companies, which also reflects the notion of evaluating employees purely based on their “performance”.​​

So, what kind of talent are you looking for exactly?

I want “professionals”. That is, professionals who can adapt to the rapidly changing cashless payment industry and who can deliver results with outstanding speed based on his/her mission. You don’t see people finding a new job when they go around saying, “I’m an amateur, but I want to find a new job.” I don’t want people to be a slave to a company, but to strive in enhancing their market value as professionals.

I have no intention whatsoever of asking our employees to give their life to PayPay or to work for the company for the rest of their lives. I want them to live their lives for themselves. It would be great to see people working at PayPay develop themselves further during their time at PayPay and become talented professionals that can pass for any job in the world.​​​​

In September, PayPay adopted a new way of working where employees can choose where and when they wish to work.​​

Yes, we call it, “Work From Anywhere At Anytime.” This new way of working was adopted so that we can deliver our best performances. Personally, I’ve become more productive since I can have more meetings now as I don’t have to spend time commuting to the office anymore. I’ve also been able secure one hour to run every morning from 6 a.m. (laughs)​​​​​​

Regardless of where we work, our fundamentals remain unchanged in which our focus is always on our users and merchants as we strive to deliver results. Having said that, I also don’t intend to persist in this work style, so I would like to remain flexible in making changes. Making instant improvements where necessary, is indeed what PayPay is all about. It has only been a month since we started this new work style, but I believe we have already found areas where we can improve.​​​​

A Journey Towards Our Dream: “The World’s Best FinTech Company”

COVID-19 has changed the world, but how has it affected PayPay?

It has affected us in many ways, but we shouldn’t think of this as a “disaster”. Instead, we need to take it as an opportunity.

If PayPay had more online services available back in April, when the state of emergency was declared, we would have seen an increase in users. But there is no point in regretting it now. As we have done since then, releasing a take-out service called “PayPay Pick Up”, we will be able to capture big business opportunities and monetize them as long as we can continue adapting to the changing demand of our users. The most important thing is to be able to respond to changes and create services with an outstanding speed.​​​​​​

“Responding to changes with outstanding speed” is indeed the culture of PayPay.

Yes, and I hope we can remain so.

I believe we as a company and as a service will grow further, if we are a group of people who strives to be the best in what we do, and pushes forward towards our goals while transforming ourselves for the better.​​

Lastly, what is your vision for PayPay?

With so many services competing with each other, it’s critical for PayPay to remain the first in terms of top of mind awareness, that is, the first thing people think of when they hear cashless payments. I believe we can achieve this only by maintaining the ambition to be the best in the world.​​

There are many FinTech-related companies in amongst the list of major venture businesses that are referred to as “decacorns” – my goal is to stand alongside them, and later best them.

For this reason, I plan to make PayPay available to people not only in Japan but also all over the world. I cannot go into the details at this stage, but at a high level, the plan is to enable tourists who come to Japan to use the cashless payment app that they use in their own country to buy products at PayPay merchant stores. That’s the sort of system I want to roll out.​​​​

It’s 2 years since the company was founded, and there are more and more people who feel that “PayPay may have an impact on society”. I want to live up to that expectation, to continue to be the existence that shakes-up society, and to build a company that goes beyond such expectations.​​​​

PayPay Corporation / CEO Ichiro Nakayama

Currently available positions

Special Thanks: Ichiro Nakayama / Editing: daiki (PayPay Inside-Out editorial department)
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.