The Brazilian unit of PayPal Inc. is seeking to buy competitors to expand its business in Latin America's biggest economy.

"Acquisitions are part of our strategy — we'd love to buy somebody," Mario Mello, PayPal's regional head, said in an interview in Sao Paulo. The ideal candidate for a purchase would need to have "a good client base to accelerate our growth into small and medium-sized companies," he said.

Smaller retailers accounted for 25 percent of Brazil's gross domestic product in the first quarter, according to the national statistics bureau. There are about 20 online-payment companies in Brazil that give consumers an alternative to using a credit or debit card when they buy goods online, according to Mello. He declined to say if PayPal is currently in talks for an acquisition or give the timing of a potential deal.

The number of consumers in Brazil that have made at least one purchase using PayPal's platform in the past 12 months rose to 2.8 million this year from about 250,000 when the company started operating there in 2011, according to Mello. The company has 750 million users worldwide, he said.

San Jose, Calif.-based PayPal, a unit of eBay Inc., typically passes money to Brazilian retailers 24 hours after a purchase, compared with 30 to 40 days for credit card companies, Mello said.

"The majority of entrepreneurs need cash fast," Paula Paschoal, the head of sales and business development at PayPal Brazil, said in the interview.

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