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 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, 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 center 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 $US644 million per day, or $US26 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.