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PayPal sets sights on China, beyond with new biz tools

The payments company wants merchants to capitalize on overseas shopping trends like China's "Singles' Day," the biggest e-commerce holiday of the year.

A screenshot of a PassPort tool. PayPal

PayPal on Thursday is launching a new website that it says will help small businesses make more money overseas -- specifically in China, a country that has an e-commerce holiday that's more popular than Black Friday in the US.

The site, PassPort, will feature country-specific information on major shopping holidays, cultural taboos and trends, and the nuts and bolts of international sales, like shipping logistics, currency exchanges and fees, and taxes.

"Small business owner know that reaching a global market can exponentially increase their sales, but many aren't sure where to start," Carey Kolaja, PayPal's vice president of global product solutions, said in a press release.

International transactions make up about 25 percent of PayPal's total payments. The company pointed to China's "Singles' Day," a holiday where single people are encouraged to buy themselves presents, as a reason to invest in global sales. It's become so popular among young people in China that sales from this year's event is expected to exceed $10 billion. Last year, Singles' Day created more than $5.75 billion in sales, just through sites owned by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant. In comparison, Black Friday online sales reached $1.2 billion in 2013.

Singles' Day aside, China's huge e-commerce market is an attractive one for online retailers, as evidenced by the highly anticipated Alibaba initial public offering. It's expected to be the biggest IPO in US history.

PayPal said PassPort will help businesses understand the best times and ways to reach international consumers. It also includes a plug for eBay's marketplace tools. While PayPal's PassPort is tailored to merchants, it is an open site (anyone can access it) and it's designed to help sellers on any platform, not just eBay's, according to a spokesman.

The e-commerce site, which owns PayPal, has 120 million overseas buyers. eBay had a tough time breaking into the Chinese market. It launched a China-specific site in 2004, but was forced to shut it down after Alibaba took over the market with its own consumer site. eBay does not discuss its sales by country, so it's unclear how it's currently doing in China.