PayPal has long been the leader in providing secure transactions for online merchants and payment options for buyers on the internet. Rising to fame in conjunction with eBay, PayPal is now the preferred type of payment option for over 24% of consumers and 43% of all online consumers claim to have used it at least once to make a purchase over the internet. It is readily apparent that online merchants can benefit from the reputation and extensive reach of PayPal by setting up a merchant account.

PayPal offers two different merchant accounts specifically for small business owners. The Website Payments Standard account is absolutely free to set up with the only fees incurred after a transaction has been accepted. The Website Payments Pro account costs $30 a month and allows consumers to complete their transaction on your website – a small cost for promoting unique brand awareness. With either type of account an internet merchant receives a variety of extra features.

Email Invoicing

This is a great feature, particularly for e-tailers who are selling monthly services on the internet. Bills are emailed to each account and can be set up as a recurrent event. Merchants can use a standard PayPal invoice or even create their own with Quickbooks. Customers are assured of secure payment through the PayPal website.

Payflow Payment Gateway

For any small business which already has a credit card merchant account with a bank or other payment processing company, PayPal allows integration to continue using this service while providing a secure link to accept payments through PayPal, as well. It uses 128-bit SSL encryption to assure consumers of data security. Payments go straight to the merchant bank account. There are various levels of this service but all options provide technical support, fraud protection, and sales reports at no additional cost.

Virtual Terminal

A virtual terminal works just like a credit card swipe machine in a bricks and mortar store. In fact, if a small online business is considering expansion into point-of-sale purchasing, a virtual terminal allows the merchant to enter the order details and it functions as if there were actually a machine processing the transaction but without the investment in equipment. Orders can come in via phone, fax, or mail. A custom packing slip is generated for each transaction making a virtual terminal easy, convenient and affordable.

More Features

Another advantage of using PayPal merchant services is the ability to process orders from international customers. Multiple currencies are easily accommodated and automatically exchanged at the prevailing rate the date the money is transferred.

Express checkout is also a feature popular with consumers. Much the same as Amazon’s one-click checkout, buyers can use their personal PayPal account to quickly pay for purchases. The more rapid the process, the more satisfied consumers are with the buying experience.

For the small business owner, often the most difficult component of increasing sales is the costs involved with accepting various forms of payment. By setting up a PayPal merchant account, there are no initial costs (when choosing the standard plans) yet an online business can look professional and reach the largest amount of consumers.

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