eBay’s online payment outfit, Paypal has announced it has registered almost 35m accounts in Europe – a boost in its battle with rival providers.

It’s the first time the group has released specific numbers for Europe, where it says it processed $8.4bn (£4.3bn) in payments last year.

At the end of 2006, Paypal said it had 86m registered users in the US and 47m elsewhere in the world, and had handled $37.8bn (£19.3bn) in total payments globally.

It’s not clear why it’s taken so long for Paypal to release the figures, and there isn’t much out there to show how it shapes up against rivals like Google Checkout.

Paypal cites a report by Forrester Research which suggests 23% of European online shoppers prefer it to other payment methods, while other recent studies have shown that Google is still playing catch-up, despite aggressive marketing to consumers and merchants.

Donna Bogatin has also written some interesting blog articles about the true costs of Google Checkout’s promotional strategy.

On the figures, Brent Bellm, VP of PayPal Europe, said:

“PayPal has worked hard to build a safe and convenient payment service specifically tailored to European e-commerce.

“PayPal lets consumers pay using the card or bank of their choice, without ever having to retype their financial information or share it with the merchant. In Europe, choice, convenience, and privacy are what make PayPal such a popular way to pay.”