eBay Watch: Skype Joins MySpace, PayPal Joins WorldPay, Q4 Upgrades

| About: eBay Inc. (EBAY)
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A number of key developments to note for eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) watchers:

Skype and MySpace Join Forces

Skype and MySpace (NASDAQ:NWS) today announced the beta release of MySpaceIM with Skype, a new product that integrates MySpace’s popular IM client with Skype’s voice-calling capability. The product will be available in November.This is a major announcement for Skype. MySpace has over 110 million overall monthly active users and over 25 million users of its IM software so this partnership really does connect two of the most popular communications platforms on the Internet.

Financial terms of the MySpace and Skype deal were not disclosed.

eBay Fine Tunes Site for Q4 Shopping

eBay is making a few small, but significant, changes to make this a record-breaking Q4 shopping season. In the past few days/weeks, a number of changes have been rolled out. These include:

After a few weeks of testing, eBay announced Monday this feature is being rolled out site wide in the next few days. This feature allows buyers to bid from the item page itself rather than having an additional confirmation page. Testing has seen a positive effect on bidding so expect this to help ASPs an conversions in Q4.

Last spring, eBay started including the item title on the "Feedback as a Buyer" page. After concerns from buyers and sellers, eBay has decided to remove this information effective immediately. Not only is this a positive change from a privacy point of view, it shows EBAY are listening to their users.

Starting this week, eBay is replacing the existing "Price" sort option with "Price + Shipping" sort in most categories. Including the shipping and handling costs in the sorting is something buyers have been requesting for a long time to avoid the frustration of finding deceptively low prices with unusually high shipping charges.

Using its sophisticated fraud detection algorithms, PayPal will automatically withhold payment of highly suspicious purchases and immediately notify the seller. Within 24 hours, the transaction is reviewed and either approved or rejected. This feature is already in testing and aims to roll out by year-end.

PayPal to be Integrated into WorldPay

According to The Sunday Times in the UK, PayPal will soon announce an agreement with Worldpay, the division of Royal Bank of Scotland that processes online payments, to integrate PayPal as a payment alternative. Carl-Olav Scheible, head of PayPal UK, said the deal was a significant step for the company. “Merchants who are signed up with Paypal will be able to accept it without having to do the integration themselves,” he said. “If they can get it through RBS, then it really becomes a no-brainer.”


This would be yet another major account win for PayPal. WorldPay is a very popular payment processing alternative in the UK (with thousands of merchants) which I had always viewed as direct competition for PayPal. Together with the recent integration into BT TradeSpace, PayPal is setting itself up for a record-breaking Q4.