PayPal buys money-saving service Honey for $4 billion

PayPal could now help customers at the start of their shopping experience, not the end.

Even before it split with eBay, money transfer service PayPal consistently sought new ways to part consumers from their cash. It hasn't strayed far from its core competences, acquiring payment companies like Braintree (and as a result Venmo), Xoom and iZettle, but its latest purchase will see the company dive right back into the online shopping space.

That's because PayPal has snapped up Honey, the popular money-saving service, in a deal worth $4 billion. It's PayPal's biggest ever acquisition and will see both companies attempt to further "simplify and personalize shopping experiences for consumers," while helping more than 30,000 retailers get those customers through their online checkouts.

Over 17 million people already use a Honey app or browser extension. Once installed, Honey tracks price changes on retailer websites but can also automatically input coupon codes when a user enters an online checkout. If no coupons are available, Honey may also offer loyalty points that can be redeemed as gift cards.

Given that PayPal already has 24 million online merchants on its books, its latest acquisition will allow it to better target and personalize experiences for consumers the minute they arrive on a website. With companies like Apple, Google and Facebook moving further into the payment space, capturing the attention of shoppers at the start of their visit rather them helping them pay for their goods at the end could give PayPal the springboard it needs to become much more than just a payment company.