Consumers rarely think about who processes their payments at the checkout. Whether in the offices of a traditional bank, such as JPMorgan, or in a fintechas PayPal or Stripe, all you need is for it to be fast and hassle-free. However, behind the scenes a battle is being waged to control the technology of buy now ('buy now'). Last year, e-commerce sales in the United States alone surpassed $1 trillion, with billions in revenue and profits flowing to dozens of companies vying to be at the center of transactions.

Among processors, PayPal, with $27.5 billion in revenue in 2022, is a giant in the sector. In September, its new CEO, Alex Chriss, 46, took the reins, inheriting a company that has adopted a risky low-pricing strategy, similar to Dell's strategy to sell IBM PC clones in the 1990s. Last year, the San Jose, California, company began cut the cost of the payment services it offers under its Braintree brand, a white-label service that allows small and large businesses to accept debit cards, credit cards, and other payment methods from consumers. Research firm MoffetNathanson estimates that Braintree's revenue increased to $8.4 billion in 2022 from $6.2 billion in 2021, representing about 30% of PayPal's total net revenue. Braintree is growing faster than other parts of PayPal and non-branded transactions, which are primarily driven by Braintree, rose 40% in 2022. PayPal's branded business, when consumers press the yellow PayPal button, grew just 5% in 2022.

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