Small business owner works on her laptop
Small business owner works on her laptop Courtesy of PayPal

PayPal is expanding its empire with one-stop-shop business services, looking to sway customers away from traditional financial service providers like banks and accounting firms.

Yesterday, PayPal launched a new toolkit for small business owners called "Business in a Box.” It’s a collaboration with both the accounting software firm Xero and Woocommerce, an open source e-commerce plugin that helps business owners easily manage their own customized WordPress sites. In addition to PayPal’s standard infrastructure, the new B2B service includes hosting an online storefront, offering a range of accounting tools and opportunities to apply for working capital from PayPal itself.

"PayPal is really moving into two avenues to become a growth partner for merchants," Amit Mathradas, PayPal's head of small businesses for North America, told International Business Times in a phone interview. "Serving the entire ecosystem, beyond just payments...actually helping them run and grow their business."

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PayPal originally got into small-business lending in 2013, an add-on for merchants that was particularly popular with people who had eBay stores. Since then, the platform has been steadily raising financing limits, now set at $125,000, or 25 percent of annual sales according to Fortune magazine. Even in 2017, eBay vendors make up an estimated 15 percent of PayPal’s revenue.

If Sophia Amoruso of “GirlBoss” fame started her online store today, she would be PayPal’s ideal customer. PayPal’s new toolbox could have helped her manage payments on eBay, then launch her own unique website with the help of Woocommerce and maybe fund it all with a PayPal loan.

PayPal’s press release claims PayPal Working Capital already financed 115,000 businesses worldwide with $3 billion in loans and cash advances. Fortune magazine reported PayPal’s financing sector is indeed growing at a rate of $4.5 million a day. And now the fintech company is looking to sweeten the deal for smaller businesses in particular, developing a whole payments “ecosystem.”

Business owners make up a crucial swath of PayPal’s active users. The company’s Q1 report tallied 16 million merchant accounts out of 203 million accounts total. There is still plenty of room for PayPal to grow that sector. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, there are 28.8 million small businesses nationwide. And it’s not only digital natives that stand to gain from an all-inclusive toolbox. A 2016 report by the research firm Clutch estimated 46 percent of small American businesses don’t have a website, many of which want to launch one in the near future.

Some of the primary obstacles that keep mom-and-pop shops from going online include the cost of a new website and the hassle of ongoing technical maintenance. PayPal’s collaboration tackles both of these issues.

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“Under most circumstances, you’d spend a lot of time picking out and purchasing the individual components you need to set up an online store,” Woocommerce’s online announcement stated. “Business in a Box eliminates those steps and saves you time by packaging everything you need into one place.” Mathradas described these partnerships as the second avenue in PayPal's overarching plan, curating services and opportunities. "It's really about connecting the two-sided network that we have," Mathradas said.

Individually, nothing PayPal now offers will break the e-commerce mold. But this new inclusive service does represents PayPal’s ambitions to garner Google-like omnipotence in niche retail markets. “I wish that stuff was available to me when I first started using PayPal,” artisanal honey seller Zeke Freeman told Fortune. “I couldn’t have picked a worse business for cash flow.” Although Freeman’s honey reportedly reaps over $1.2 million in revenue, the ebb and flow of seasonal production makes him a perfect candidate for borrowing working capital from PayPal, which will automatically help him pay the loan back as profits trickle in.

"Unlike traditional loans, which are on a monthly installment basis, the way the PayPal working capital loan works is you pay back as percentage of your sales," Mathradas told IBT. "What that does for the merchant is it removes the burden of having a monthly payment... as we look at how cash ebbs and flows and revenue cycles, that's really the benefit." When compared to traditional lenders, PayPal can now play the trump cards of mobility and convenience.