PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

Pay2 Dev Speaks vol.1 – Munenori Hirakawa (Part1 of 2)


Since its launch in 2018, PayPay has grown into a nationwide mobile payment service with 55 million users in Japan and now boasts a multicultural workplace with members from 50 countries and regions.
In the “Pay2 Dev Speaks” series, we will focus on the unique members of Pay2 Development Center (Pay2DC), PayPay’s first overseas development hub in India, which was launched in October 2022.

To kick the series off, we spoke with Mune – the head of Pay2DC. In the first part of a two-part article, we asked him to talk about the appeal of PayPay, why a base was established in India, and the mission of Pay2DC.

Munenori Hirakawa(Mune)

Pay2 Development Center Private Limited Managing Director

After completing graduate school, he joined Yahoo Japan Corporation as a backend engineer, where he was involved in billing management systems, point systems, and the Yahoo! JAPAN Wallet project. In June 2018, he joined PayPay during its startup phase. After serving as Senior Manager, he was assigned his current position in October 2022.

Who is Mune?

From developing at PayPay to creating a PayPay development center

After graduate school, I joined Yahoo! JAPAN, a giant in the internet industry, as a backend engineer and was in charge of developing payment and point systems for about 10 years.

I have been in PayPay since its launch phase. At the time, I could barely speak English, but it was a very exciting experience for me to build a product from scratch by somehow communicating with Paytm members, with whom I had a technical link, while drawing pictures on a whiteboard. Later, while working as Tech Lead and Senior Manager, I wanted to take the challenge to another level, so I volunteered for a project to establish a base in India. Following the proverb of my former boss, “When in doubt, choose to be wild” I moved to India with my family in December.
I am now the head of Pay2 Development Center in India.

What kind of company is PayPay?

Experts work as one team to create user-centric products

PayPay is a ubiquitous mobile payment service in Japan with more than 55 million registered users. We created the product with technology provided by Paytm, India’s largest fintech company. In Japan, which is a developing country when it comes to cashlessness, the company is simultaneously promoting the widespread use of cashless payments and our financial platform. I have been involved with the company since its formation in 2018, but I am quite amazed at how much it has grown in such a short period of time. There is no other place where you can gain so much experience and learn so much. Time is condensed at PayPay. In the four and a half years I’ve been here, it feels like I’ve already worked 10 or 15 years.
The following three characteristics of PayPay also contribute to the richness of the experience:

  • Members of any department love PayPay’s products and services, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help PayPay grow
  • Each person exhibits a high level of professionalism, is extremely skilled, and solves problems quickly
  • 80% of the product development engineers are from overseas, and you can encounter many new perspectives and ways of thinking

The appeal of PayPay is, above all, the speed with which we provide new value to users, and I would add to that the good kind of chaos that comes with the rapidity of our work. I believe this environment of professionals working together as one in order to realize user-centric services, and the sense of speed that comes with it, is something you can only experience at our company.

Why a development center in India?

Achieve rapid growth with Indian engineers

The impetus for establishing a development base overseas came from the fact that expanding the Product Team had become a major challenge in response to the rapid growth of the service. As we were bringing in the best of the best engineers, with an applicant-to-hire ratio of less than 1%, we decided to go overseas instead of asking them to come to Japan.
India is the largest IT country in the world and has a huge hiring market with tens of millions of IT engineers joining the workforce every year. We also have a history of working with Paytm, so it was only natural for us to choose India.

The story behind the launch

Establish a company in six months and expand the organization in Gurugram

Although we only had six months from the start of the project to launching the company, almost all preparations went smoothly thanks to the excellent organization of the PMO Team.
When we visited India before creating the company, we also discussed the possibility of renting a part of Paytm’s office, but in the end, we decided on our current location because Gurugram’s is in a great location and it is relatively easy for Japanese people to live here.

Although the process of establishing Pay2DC in October 2022 and opening the office in January 2023 was smooth, there are still challenges in hiring local engineers. How can we get people to like our product in India, where there are no PayPay services? And how can we meet the needs of engineers in India, where working styles are different from those in Japan, while adapting to the local culture? We are addressing these kinds of issues as fast as we can.

What is the team and culture like?

Creating a corporate culture with engineers

We currently have less than 10 members but plan to increase the number to about six times that in our first year. We now have several of our Japanese members traveling to Japan to show them how PayPay works, the process, and the culture. We have a family-like relationship amongst team members. People in India highly value family and friends, so we celebrate each other’s birthdays in the office and some members actually bring their children for the occasion. We even invited our families to the office to celebrate Holi!

The initial members will create the culture of the entire company, so I would like to build a strong team by communicating closely with each other and have everyone understand the speed and quality that PayPay expects of its employees together with the values expressed in the PayPay 5 Senses.

What is the mission of Pay2DC?

Aim for top-notch development as one big team together with Tokyo

Pay2DC is not an offshore company, but a horizontal extension of the Tokyo Product Team, so the mission is exactly the same as that of the head office in Japan— making Japan go cashless and creating user-centered products. We will expect the same high level of quality using the same processes as in Japan.

Having said that, it is also important that Pay2DC becomes an environment that Indian engineers can benefit from. We believe that the key to achieving both of these goals is to have a sense of unity with the few hundred Product Team members in Japan. I would like to create an environment that can generate synergies to maximize the strengths of both India and Japan. Ultimately, our goal is to become the world’s No. 1 fintech company. As our first overseas office, I want to make Pay2DC a major contributor to this achievement.

In the next issue..
The second part of the interview with Mune will be coming soon!

Special Thanks: Mune / Editor,Author: Moe / Photographer: Tak
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.