NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Co-founder and CEO of Affirm Max Levchin participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)
Max Levchin, the founder of PayPal, says he"ended up with a lot of bitcoin' as an investor in one of the cryptocurrency's early startups. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

PayPal founder Max Levchin talks bitcoin and digital payments



Max Levchin helped introduce the masses to the concept of a digital wallet when he co-founded PayPal in the late 1990s.

These days, he is still trying to use online services to reshape the world of finance. He is currently the chief executive of Affirm, a San Francisco startup that offers fixed-payment loans through the internet. It's an alternative to traditional credit cards, which can get consumers into trouble because small minimum payments they make each month can keep them in debt for decades.

Mr Levchin, now 42, discusses the state of digital payments, computer security and bitcoin, a cryptocurrency whose value has ranged from about $1,000 to more than $19,000 this year as investors have bet on its future prospects.

Are digital payments progressing as quickly as you hoped since you started PayPal?

They are moving at a good pace, adjusted for just how large and complicated the market is. It's highly regulated and there are a lot of things to be careful about. The elephant in the room for the last seven or eight years has been cryptocurrency. A big "what if" and "when if" has been surrounding bitcoin and its ilk.

Why so?

The asset generally appreciated at such a blistering pace. Any time you acquire it, why not hang on to it? Because you just don't want to spend it yet. On the whole, it's a kind of transaction tool that is locked into areas where credit and cash don't really service the purpose. So you wind up finding it in somewhat darker corners.

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Read more:

All you need to know about digital wallets in the UAE

Could gold do a bitcoin and hit $10,000 an ounce in 2018?

What to buy when the stock market crashes

The rise of an app that helps UAE nannies save, invest and borrow

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Do you invest in bitcoin?

I wound up with a lot of bitcoin as an early investor in one of the early bitcoin startups. But it wasn't a conscious decision to go buy a bunch of bitcoin. I generally don't speculate. I am very old school in that sense. I try to understand how value is traded and what is going to happen to it in the very long term, not because I am a stranger to speculative investing. It's because I don't have time to time the market. So what I end up doing is committing to a stock or committing to a company.

What are some of the most interesting areas of digital payments?

A good example is international remittances, where companies can pop up and do well. They're the guys who figured out how to do it much cheaper and much more transparently with much lower friction to both the recipient and the sender.

Should we be concerned about hackers wreaking havoc with our financial system?

We should be worried broadly about our cybersecurity preparedness. I don't think it's specific to payments. It is just generally increasing the cost of doing business and reduces societal trust. And this is the first time in history where it's scary. Everything has got a chip. We are going to have to learn how to secure keys (secret codes for unlocking digital files and services).

AL BOOM

Director:Assad Al Waslati

Starring: Omar Al Mulla, Badr Hakami and Rehab Al Attar

Streaming on: ADtv

Rating: 3.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Sav
Started: 2021
Founder: Purvi Munot
Based: Dubai
Industry: FinTech
Funding: $750,000 as of March 2023
Investors: Angel investors

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg

Barcelona v Liverpool, Wednesday, 11pm (UAE).

Second leg

Liverpool v Barcelona, Tuesday, May 7, 11pm

Games on BeIN Sports

The biog

Name: Fareed Lafta

Age: 40

From: Baghdad, Iraq

Mission: Promote world peace

Favourite poet: Al Mutanabbi

Role models: His parents 

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
When: Saturday, May 26, 10.45pm (UAE)
TV: Match on BeIN Sports

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

A MAN FROM MOTIHARI

Author: Abdullah Khan
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 304
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ESSENTIALS

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match info

Athletic Bilbao 1 (Muniain 37')

Atletico Madrid 1 (Costa 39')

Man of the match  Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao)

SPECS

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Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
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Female 62kg: Beatriz Mesquita (BRA) v Ffion Davies (GBR); 10-2.

Female 70kg: Thamara Silva (BRA) bt Alessandra Moss (AUS); submission.

Female 90kg: Gabreili Passanha (BRA) bt Claire-France Thevenon (FRA); submission.

Male 56kg: Hiago George (BRA) bt Carlos Alberto da Silva (BRA); 2-2 (2-0)

Male 62kg: Gabriel de Sousa (BRA) bt Joao Miyao (BRA); 2-2 (2-1)

Male 69kg: Paulo Miyao (BRA) bt Isaac Doederlein (USA); 2-2 (2-2) Ref decision.

Male 77kg: Tommy Langarkar (NOR) by Oliver Lovell (GBR); submission.

Male 85kg: Rudson Mateus Teles (BRA) bt Faisal Al Ketbi (UAE); 2-2 (1-1) Ref decision.

Male 94kg: Kaynan Duarte (BRA) bt Adam Wardzinski (POL); submission.

Male 110kg: Joao Rocha (BRA) bt Yahia Mansoor Al Hammadi (UAE); submission.

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Processor: 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, 64-bit octa-core

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Price: Dh5,099 for 256GB, Dh5,599 for 512GB, Dh6,599 for 1TB

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

FIXTURES

All kick-off times UAE (+4 GMT)
Brackets denote aggregate score

Tuesday:
Roma (1) v Shakhtar Donetsk (2), 11.45pm
Manchester United (0) v Sevilla (0), 11.45pm

Wednesday:
Besiktas (0) v Bayern Munich (5), 9pm
Barcelona (1) v Chelsea (1), 11.45pm

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
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Transmission: Six-speed automatic
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On sale: Now

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List
James Mustich, Workman

Ipaf in numbers

Established: 2008

Prize money:  $50,000 (Dh183,650) for winners and $10,000 for those on the shortlist.

Winning novels: 13

Shortlisted novels: 66

Longlisted novels: 111

Total number of novels submitted: 1,780

Novels translated internationally: 66


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