PayPal introduces suite for SMBs

PayPal is releasing new online payment services aimed at attracting small and medium-size businesses.

PayPal on Monday moved to increase its presence among small and medium-size businesses with a new suite of services, the first nonhosted offering from this provider of online payments.

The new suite, called PayPal Website Payments Pro, lets merchants offer three new payment options to their buyers with the ultimate goal of giving PayPal customers more flexibility and control over the checkout process.

PayPal's announcement comes on a day when the e-commerce world is abuzz over reports that Google is planning to enter the online payment market. Quoting unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal on Friday and The New York Times on Monday ran articles saying Google is developing an online payment service. Google declined to comment when reached by those two newspapers. Google didn't immediately return a call seeking comment from IDG News Service.

Website Payments Pro features three functions:

-- Express Checkout lets buyers with a PayPal account complete transactions on a merchant's Web site with three clicks. It does this by allowing buyers to initiate and approve payment earlier in the checkout process and having PayPal send shipping and billing information to the merchant.

-- Direct Payment API lets merchants process credit card transactions on the PayPal system for buyers without a PayPal account.

-- With Virtual Terminal, merchants can receive credit card information from buyers via phone, fax or regular mail and enter it into the PayPal system for processing.

Website Payments Pro isn't a hosted service because checkout is completed on the merchants' Web sites, directing customers to the PayPal site "momentarily" to log in and confirm payment, according to PayPal. Because buyers land back on merchants' Web sites after paying, merchants have more control over the checkout process and can encourage buyers to continue shopping, PayPal said. Merchants can also stamp their brand throughout the checkout process, according to PayPal.

Website Payments Pro is also integrated with a variety of shopping carts from other providers, in case a merchant lacks its own custom shopping cart, said PayPal, which is owned by mammoth online marketplace eBay Inc.

Website Payments Pro costs US$20 per month and a rate per transaction of between 2.2 percent and 2.9 percent, plus $0.30, but PayPal is waiving the monthly fee as part of an introductory offer until "late 2005," the company said. This compares with pricing of between 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent per transaction for all other PayPal services, with no monthly fee.

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