June 17, 2005, 12:00 AM

PayPal branches into card acceptance for small to mid-sized merchants

PayPal is moving into merchant acquiring, offering credit card merchant accounts as part of its newest product offering, Website Payments Pro.

PayPal is moving into merchant acquiring, offering credit card merchant accounts as part of its newest product offering, Website Payments Pro. Website Payments Pro, which went live today, targets small- and medium-size businesses with annual sales volume of between $250,000 and $5 million.

Website Payments Pro offers merchants a suite of products and services, including the traditional PayPal account. “We’re taking the same value we’ve historically provided and extending it to a new class of merchant that is larger,” says Stephanie Tilenius, vice president and general manager of merchant services.

Website Payments Pro has three new features: Express Checkout, Direct Payment API, and Virtual Terminal. Express Checkout enables buyers with PayPal accounts to pay for items in just three clicks on a merchant’s site. The buyer initiates and approves PayPal payment earlier in the checkout process, and shipping and billing information is sent immediately from PayPal to the merchant website.

Direct Payment API enables merchants to accept transactions just as they would with traditional merchant accounts. Buyers enter their credit card details directly on the merchant web site. Payments will be processed through the PayPal system on the back end and PayPal will be invisible to the buyers. Wells Fargo Co. is PayPal’s card processor.

In the past, PayPal merchants could accept card payments only indirectly via customers funding their PayPay accounts with credit or debit cards.

“The goal here is that as a merchant, you can provide two different experiences-you can provide a traditional credit card checkout where we’re in the background and then you can provide the Express Checkout,” Tilenius says. “You get the benefits of a merchant account plus all the benefits of the PayPal network.

Website Payments Pro also includes Virtual Terminal, a new feature that supports phone, fax, and mail orders by providing merchants with an online interface to manually enter credit card transactions through the PayPal system.

Pricing for Website Payments Pro includes a $20 monthly fee and a per transaction rate of between 2.2% and 2.9% of the transaction plus 30 cents. PayPal is waiving the $20 monthly fee until late 2005 as part of an introductory offer.

Pricing for all other PayPal products remains at between 1.9% and 2.9% of the transaction. There is no monthly fee.

PayPal has 72 million accounts and is available to users in 56 markets around the world.

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