Quietly, Shopify is getting serious about financing small businesses. The ecommerce platform revealed that Shopify Capital issued $76.4 million in merchant cash advances in the third quarter of 2018. That amounts to an increase of 73 percent versus the $44.1 million issued in the third quarter of last year. In a merchant cash advance, a financing firm purchases a company's future receivables at a discounted price. In return for a lump sum, the borrower remits a percentage of its daily sales to the financing company. Shopify announced it would enter the alternative lending space in April of 2016 with the launch of Shopify Capital. Since opening its balance sheet to fund merchants on its platform, Shopify Capital has grown to nearly $375 million in cumulative cash advanced. Along with Shopify Shipping, Shopify Capital is part of the firm's Merchant Solutions group, which posted revenue growth of 68 percent, to $149.5 million, for the quarter. Shopify is following in the footsteps of PayPal and Square, two popular payment platforms that have been lending to merchants for years. PayPal Working Capital and Square Capital have issued significantly higher volumes of merchant cash advances. For example, in the most recent quarter, Square Capital facilitated over 60,000 business loans totaling $390 million. And at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas this week, PayPal COO Bill Ready told the audience that PayPal Working Capital has financed more than $6 billion for 170,000 global businesses. Square announced recently that it would provide purchase financing for Square merchants to offer their customers. This move to consumer financing pits the firm against Affirm and GreenSky, two of the largest competitors in the space.