PayPal Holdings (PYPL -1.68%) has become a household name as the original online payment system. It's the leader in an exciting industry, which makes it attractive to newer investors -- it's one of the 100 most popular holdings at beginner-friendly trading platform Robinhood. And in the new, stay-at-home normal, PayPal is even more relevant.

But when news broke on Monday that Pfizer had released promising data on a potential coronavirus vaccine, some tech companies -- including PayPal -- plunged. Will PayPal suffer if a vaccine lets people get back to shopping outside of their homes? Is its stock in for some volatility? And does that makes it a risky investment for beginners?

The name of the game is innovation

PayPal is far from a simple payment processor. It's the undefeated champion of fintech, or financial technology, offering digital payment solutions for sellers and buyers.

Two women looking at a tablet in small business storeroom

Image source: Getty Images.

It's a master at innovation and making the company relevant to its times. While veteran shoppers may remember PayPal as the payment underpinning of eBay, the company also processes payments for offline businesses. It acquired Venmo in 2014 to increase its leadership in peer-to-peer payments, and has developed partnerships with millions of large and small businesses as a payment option.

As far as payment processing and the seller's end of the deal goes, having a PayPal button at checkout provides more ways for customers to complete a purchase. At the buyer's end, it makes for easy checkout through millions of companies' websites, and the company has become even more competitive with the acquisition of Honey, a price comparison service. PayPal keeps growing its list of partner companies, and you can now check out of almost any online shop through your PayPal account.

The company also recently launched buy-now-pay-later installment plans, where customers can choose to pay for certain items in up to four interest-free payments. The program is offered through millions of PayPal's partners.

The company finally released a cryptocurrency trading feature to match Square's. In Square's second quarter, when most small businesses were closed, most of its growth came from bitcoin trading, and it still provided the bulk of revenue for the company's Cash App in the third quarter. PayPal, on the other hand, had large revenue growth throughout the pandemic as much of its business is online. Cryptocurrency is another avenue for higher sales and income.

People keep using it

PayPal had another great quarter, benefiting from both a surge in online ordering and its leadership position in digital payments. Despite its top status, PayPal kept growing its customer base in the third quarter to 361 million active accounts. And those customers are engaging, with a 30% increase in transactions. Total payment volume increased 37% to $247 billion and revenue surged 25% to over $5 billion.

The company also expects similar growth metrics in the upcoming fourth quarter,but with the potential of a vaccine, the huge surge might slow down. It makes sense that PayPal had its best-ever quarter while people were conducting more business online, and the company is taking advantage of the trends to further its dominance. That's what an industry leader should be doing.

While a vaccine might mean shoppers are out again, there's no going back from the shift to digital business. PayPal was growing even before the pandemic made it an essential. In the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic started, growth in revenue, total payment volume, and new users was still in the double digits.

Growth is far from over

At Wednesday morning's prices, PayPal's stock was up 76% year to date after falling about 10% in two days. That's still a great gain. But if nervous investors sell now, they'll miss out on what comes next. Long-term gains require patience.

PayPal has proven itself over and over again as a company that can spin new products and services and develop lucrative partnerships that fit the business environment. Robinhood users and other less experienced investors should hold into PayPal stock and stick it out through the drop to see future gains.