ADP Paypal
Money Movement  $1.7 trillion  $354 billion
Revenue  $12.21 billion  $11.27 billion
Profit  $1.75 billion  $1.42 billion
Market Cap  $43.3 billion  $59.7 billion
  • ADP revenue includes full HCM services besides payroll.

Notice something here? ADP moves a lot of money than Paypal, but makes less revenue on money movement (less the revenue from other HCM services). It has a smaller market cap too. Why? Well, ADP is in the business of solution shop and value add process while Paypal is a facilitated network.

There are three general types of business models: solution shops, value-adding process businesses, and facilitated networks. Solution shops are institutions structured to diagnose and recommend solutions to unstructured problems. Almost always, solutions shops charge their clients on a fee-for-service basis. The value-adding process transform inputs of resources into outputs of higher value. Because value-adding process organization tend to do their work in repetitive ways, the capability to deliver value tends to be embedded in processes and equipment. The facilitated networks operate systems in which customers buy and sell, and deliver and receive things from other participants. Much of consumer banking is a network business in which customers will make deposits and withdrawals from a collective pool.

When on boarding clients, ADP is in the mode of solution shops where a heavy team executes a time-consuming and highly customized process for each major client. Once a client is on board, ADP performs the repetitive payroll service with computers in every pay cycle. In return, clients pay ADP service fees. No matter how big or small the paycheck is, for CEO or for average Joe, the service fee is the same. In contrast, Paypal is a facilitated network and the service fee is proportional to the transaction size just like credit card services.

Given its dominance in payroll business, it is very challenging for ADP to achieve high growth in this area by grabbing more market share. But high growth is still possible by changing the business model with the above analysis. That is, ADP should become a facilitated network, more specifically a bank!

It sounds ridiculous but ADP has a unique advantage to be a great bank by managing the risk well. The open secret is its massive payroll and HR data. By knowing the incomes in advance, work history, performance metrics, time management data, etc., ADP can reduce the risk a lot with data science. Another great news is that there is a huge market. Many households try to make a go of it week to week, paycheck to paycheck, expense to expense. In fact, 63% Of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency. Often they have to pay a very high borrow rate to meet a small financial need. With the good risk management based on its data, ADP can potentially help us with much lower rate. It is a win-win for everyone.

To learn more how this works, please check out Payroll: An Overlooked Area in Fintech.