Has it really gotten that bad, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY)? In a gutsy (if not desperate) move, eBay's PayPal will begin testing a service today that extends credit lines to some of its members.

This may seem like a lousy idea at first, but it's just eBay's latest response to the economic slowdown. The company has gone from offering eBay shoppers coupons on PayPal to recently acquiring deferred-payment specialist Bill Me Later.

Now PayPal will reach out to credit-worthy active members, giving them a chance to tap a predetermined credit line to spend through partner merchants (including eBay, of course). The carrot for potential borrowers is that PayPal will let them skate interest-free on the repayments until April. You've got to hand it to eBay for timing this perfectly, heading into this tight holiday shopping season.

Moves like this can backfire, of course. We know how investors react to companies that take on a little credit risk. Discount online broker E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC) is still paying the price for its banking initiatives. The worst-performing IAC (NASDAQ:IACI) spinoff has been Tree.com (NASDAQ:TREE), parent company of lender lead generator LendingTree.com.

What's next, eBay? Are pawnshops and payday advance loans in PayPal's future?

Lay off those silly thoughts for now. At least eBay is responding -- realistically -- to this dour economy. Give it some credit. It’s apparently willing to give some to you.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a satisfied eBay user with 177 positive feedback ratings to show for it. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.