Investing in great stocks doesn't require a huge initial investment. Now that fractional share purchasing has become more widely accepted, just about anyone can invest with any budget. And the sooner you start, the more you stand to gain.

If you have paid off your bills, cleared up any short-term debt related to credit cards, and have a decent emergency fund set aside, putting some money toward the stock market could be beneficial. If you have $500 to invest now and you are looking for a great stock to buy and hold forever, you might want to consider fintech leader PayPal Holdings (PYPL -1.51%).

A woman paying in a store to a man behind a counter.

Image source: Getty Images.

Powering digital payments

There are several reasons why PayPal is an attractive investment. Its digital payments platform is becoming commonplace in almost every online and mobile checkout, and it's the original peer-to-peer payments service, helping millions manage their money.

PayPal surpassed 400 million active accounts this summer (with 32 million merchant accounts among them), and it's expecting to add between 52 million and 55 million net new active accounts by the end of the year. That's ongoing double-digit percentage growth for a company that got its start back in the 1990s.

For comparison, as of the end of the second quarter, competitor Square's Cash App had 40 million monthly transacting customers, and JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. consumer bank, had 43 million mobile customers.PayPal has built up an impressive lead and is working hard to maintain it.

Another example of this solid growth is the total payment volume (TPV) it handles. In Q2, it increased 40% year over year to more than $300 billion, and the company is expecting TPV to grow by 33% to 35% for the full year. Revenue increased 19% year over year in Q2, and the outlook is for 20% growth for the full year.

Keeping its lead in fintech

The company is using its strong revenue generation to bankroll new services to improve the customer experience and provide more value, and creating new partnerships to reach more people. As omnichannel shopping becomes the norm in retail, PayPal is expanding in-store services, such as shopping with QR codes, and with "buy now, pay later" options becoming trendy, PayPal launched its own service last year.

In September, the company rolled out its highly anticipated "super app," through which customers can access all of its financial services, including stock and cryptocurrency trading, bill pay, and banking. That includes a new savings account PayPal is offering through Synchrony Financial. PayPal is banking on (pun intended) the super app's ease of use contributing to a higher-transacting customer base that yields greater sales and profits, and expects it will draw in even more users. I'm looking forward to hearing the update on the new PayPal app when the company reports third-quarter earnings in early November.

Management sees a $110 trillion addressable market for the company's services, giving it a long pathway for growth. As it builds up its customer count, adds new features, and creates new partnerships, it is protecting its dominant spot in its space, and promoting growth for a long time to come.

A history of success, a path toward more growth

PayPal's stock price has gained almost 550% over the past five years. But if you haven't owned it over that time, you haven't missed the boat.

Admittedly, shares aren't cheap, trading at 65 times trailing 12-month earnings, and $500 will buy you not-quite two shares at its current price. But PayPal is one of those winners that keeps on winning, and it offers investors the chance for continued strong growth with low risk.