PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

Internal Auditor’s Office Supports PayPay’s Rapid Growth Through Proactive Risk Assessment and Improvement


The Professionals series showcases talented experts who support PayPay Group’s operations.
This time we interviewed Yohei Sato who heads the Audit Planning Team in the Internal Auditor’s Office. We asked him why he chose PayPay as his next career, his current responsibilities, and what he finds rewarding about working at PayPay.

Yohei Sato

Internal Auditor’s Office

Yohei joined a trust bank upon completing university, and after working in sales, planning, and administration in corporate loan business, he worked in the internal audit department. He was involved in auditing the operations of headquarters management divisions as well as domestic and overseas subsidiaries, and performed audit planning to launch an internal auditing system for the holding company. He joined PayPay in September 2021 and is currently the Audit Planning Team leader in the Internal Auditor’s Office.

Pursuit to take part in building the company structure of fast-growing PayPay

Why did you join PayPay and what were the deciding factors?

I came to realize the true importance of internal audit after experiencing a full range of auditing tasks, from planning to execution, during the seven and a half years working as internal audit at a bank. Strengthening internal audit systems has become an issue especially in the financial industry, and when I started to explore career options and fields where I could leverage my experience, I was approached by PayPay.

I was seeking for a company that recognized and valued the importance of internal audit. While PayPay grew rapidly as a fintech company, I learned that the management was committed to strengthening its internal audit system. I decided to join because I was convinced that this environment would allow me to enhance my skills while contributing to the company’s business.

What is different working at PayPay compared to your previous workplace?

One big change was the workstyle—collaborating with members remotely when we actually live far away from each other. Since I cannot meet my members often, I was a bit concerned about maintaining adequate communication and adapting to my new environment. However, many of us at PayPay are mid-career professionals with diverse backgrounds, and I found myself to be quickly accepted by the team.

Also, auditing at my previous job was done using paper-based documents as evidence. I was greatly surprised by the paperless business operations enforced at PayPay, providing for a fully capable audit operation under a remote work environment.

Challenging auditing environment of constantly facing new business risks

Tell us more about your current responsibilities

Audits performed at PayPay are divided into categories, such as statutory, system, thematic, and corporate audits. These audits are handled, planned, and executed by each team in charge.

The Audit Planning Team is responsible for overseeing and running the general audit operations system across all teams. Specific duties include formulating and executing a risk assessment program to prioritize high importance audits, developing rules and guidelines for conducting effective audits, preparing annual plans, and reviewing reports and records of individual audits.

Organization and duties

Let me break this down a bit more. For example, it’s easy to imagine that handling personal information in the recruit process contains risks of personal data breach. We identify such risks in each department, evaluate them on a high/middle/low risk scale, and prioritize them to draft an annual plan. Aside from the by-department approach, we also conduct audits by themes, which includes money laundering, compliance, and BCP. These themes are also planned and developed by the Audit Planning Team.

What is unique about audits at PayPay?

The general framework of annual planning and risk assessment is similar to other companies, but the biggest difference would be speed. Product development (the first line) naturally works with immense speed to keep up with changing times. However, administration (second line) and internal audit (third line) also march with the same speed in our quest to make PayPay the number one fintech company.

In the past year, PayPay Card became a subsidiary and we established a development center in India. With this the scope of audits has expanded and we are now working to conduct audits of our overseas entity.

What is unique to PayPay is that it has established an internal audit system comparable to those of megabanks, but where megabanks would normally take three to five years to launch such a system, PayPay accomplished this with an astonishing speed in about 18 months!

Another difference is that highly novel businesses require advanced audits. Audits at PayPay are not conducted for a fixed business or a fixed type of risk, so it would be insufficient to simply perform a compliance audit that checks business operations against set rules and manuals. What PayPay requires is forward-looking audits to address risks that may arise in the future as new services, such as mobile payment services, are introduced. In addition, our members who conduct internal audits may not always be familiar with newly formed business and operations, which can be a challenge but also a great source of motivation.

What is the atmosphere like in your team?

I think our department works with great teamwork. There are many opportunities for cross-functional collaboration since members from different teams are assigned to individual audit projects. As for the Audit Planning Team, we are made up of members with diverse backgrounds, including finance, accounting audit, and consulting, and this environment allows us to leverage our skills to develop a more sophisticated audit operation while also growing as a team.

Being an advisor to reduce risk and achieve fast company growth

What do you value in your work?

My goal is to act as an advisor who contributes to business improvement. Instead of being an identifier (“this is no good”), I value making recommendations that lead to actual improvement. For example, when reviewing audit reports from my team members, I invite them to go one step further in their feedback and leave comments, such as “an in-depth analysis of the cause would encourage other improvements.”

According to PayPay 5 Senses, this attitude corresponds to “Be sincere to be professional” and “Speed is our bet on the market.” Internal audit is a highly professional job that requires us to always maintain a professional attitude and work with very little room for compromises. I will continue to contribute to the team and the organization while keeping up with the speed that is characteristic of PayPay.

Can you tell us about your mission going forward?

People may think that internal auditors are here to nag employees of their mistakes after running a series of checks, but I believe we play a very important role in contributing to the company by offering recommendations that lead to improving business operations. Our mission is to promote both risk reduction and business improvement by being the eyes and limbs of management, while being considerate advisors to the employees.

What kind of person do you think fits best in PayPay?

PayPay is a growing company, which means it is more important to conduct forward-looking audits to prevent risks that may arise in the future, rather than taking the authentic audit approach for an established business operation. Mobile payment business is an area where very few auditors have experience, so I think those who are flexible thinkers and have the eagerness and curiosity to learn new business and operational knowledge are suited for this job.

Message for readers interested in joining PayPay

PayPay is the largest fintech company in the mobile payment business but is also a startup company in a rapid growth phase. Having a career at PayPay gives you the opportunity to learn new business schemes, be involved in building internal audit systems suitable for emerging businesses, and introduce and manage new audit methods, such as digital audits.

This is an attractive environment for those who want to expand their auditing careers and promote speed-oriented operations, while being in a diverse administrative department. We look forward to growing with you!

*The recruitment status is current at the time of the interview.

Special Thanks:Yohei Sato / Editor:Danata / Author:PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team / Photographer:Tak
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.