PayPal, a subsidiary of online auction site eBay, has launched a new application package aimed at helping small and midsize businesses accept online payments securely and cost effectively.

The new product, Website Payments Pro, has several features, including Express Checkout, Direct Payment API, and Virtual Terminal functions, which will enable online shoppers to choose how they pay for purchases, the company said.
The Virtual Terminal feature allows businesses to accept orders offline by phone, fax, or mail, and direct payment processing  to PayPal, while the Express Checkout service eliminates the need for businesses to re-enter billing and delivery information for every customer purchase.
Businesses can also add their own branding during the checkout process, and direct buyers back to their websites after transactions are completed, the company said.

According to Carl-Olav Scheible, the general manager of merchant services at PayPal, the package was developed to meet the needs of businesses that wanted the benefits of PayPal combined with those of a merchant account and gateway.

Stop Putting Your Audience to Sleep

Ever find yourself giving a PowerPoint presentation and all eyes in the audience are glazed over? New plugins designed for PowerPoint and Dreamweaver developed by New York-based SitePal enable users to spice up presentations  with virtual presenters. These avatar-like characters can be created on SitePal's Web page and embedded into a PowerPoint slide in a matter of minutes.

"Speaking SitePal characters can make your presentation more interactive and further engage your audience," Adi Sideman, CEO of Oddcast, the company that created SitePal, said in a statement.

According to Sideman, the technology requires a minimal amount of technical know-how, and the characters can even deliver key talking points in your presentation when you can't be there in person.

SitePal also introduced a plugin for Dreamweaver, which makes it easier to insert SitePal characters into any Web page. Both plugins are available for download at

Big E-mail Marketing for Small Budgets

VerticalResponse, a San Francisco-based e-mail and direct-mail marketing firm, recently upgraded its existing product line to better help small business maximize their competitive edge with communications tools.

The upgrade, which includes Email Canvas, Media Library, and other design templates, enables small businesses to create and manage professional-looking e-mail marketing campaigns  without the additional cost of software programs, the company said.

VerticalResponse has added new features to better track the response from e-mail campaigns, allowing users to follow recipients' clicks directly to a page visit and quantify the dollar value of a campaign through a ROI calculator feature.

"Businesses of all sizes understand the importance of putting their best foot forward in communications, but for many small businesses the task of designing their own email campaigns has been too daunting," Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse, said in a statement. "We’ve listened to our customers, and have provided a new series of tools to let them cut out the prohibitive costs of either design software, without compromising quality."