While some people might have issues with the service, PayPal should be credited with one major innovation: it enabled the e-commerce revolution almost single-handedly. Those of us who were around before it existed remember how difficult it was to get a merchant account and begin accepting payments online. Now, anyone with a few minutes’ time and a valid bank account can set up a PayPal account and begin accepting online payments almost immediately. With a few more, simple (and free) checks, they can start accepting credit cards too. A person can literally go from no online presence to having a fully functioning website with a shopping cart that accepts payments in just a few hours. Compare that to the weeks we would spend doing the same thing just a decade or so ago.
Although PayPal is still the number one way that most small Web businesses receive credit card and e-check payments online, that’s beginning to change. Other services meant to rival PayPal and promote eBay’s rivals (eBay owns PayPal as of the mid-1990s) began to appear, but haven’t really caught on with nearly the market proliferation PayPal enjoys.
That’s changing now thanks to a combined (though separate) effort by sometime-rivals Google and Apple.