As reported last month (see “PayPal Only” eBay Developments In The News), eBay announced that, beginning mid-June, PayPal would be the only method of payment permitted on eBay transactions taking place in Australia. This move by eBay appears to have been setback by a notice filed by the ACCC.
The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reviewed eBay’s policy, considering the impact on competition. As noted in another previous article, AuctionBytes reported on a connection between an anonymous submission to the ACCC arguing against the “PayPal-only” move and Google (see Google “Check-Out” Proxy War With eBay’s “PayPal-only” Policy?).
A few days ago, the ACCC released the following (LINK):
ACCC proposes to revoke immunity for eBay’s PayPal only policy
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft notice proposing to revoke a notification* lodged by eBay International A.G. on 11 April 2008. Under the notification, eBay proposes to mandate the use of PayPal for almost all transactions on the eBay site.
“The ACCC is concerned that the notified conduct will allow eBay to use its market power in the supply of online marketplaces to substantially lessen competition in the market in which PayPal operates,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.
“PayPal currently competes with a range of other providers to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces. If the notified conduct is allowed to go ahead, there will be no competition for the supply of such services to buyers and sellers using eBay.
“Given eBay’s position as Australia’s leading online marketplace, the notified conduct will substantially reduce competition to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces more generally.
“The ACCC acknowledges that having PayPal as the only payment provider has the potential to deliver some benefits to users, such as increased buyer protection insurance in certain circumstances. However, the ACCC believes that consumers are in the best position to decide which payment method is most suitable for them.
“The notified conduct denies them that choice. Accordingly, the ACCC considers that these benefits do not outweigh the anti-competitive effects of the conduct,” Mr Samuel said.
eBay proposes to implement the conduct in two stages. From 21 May 2008, all sellers on eBay were required to offer PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods. The second stage of the conduct is due to commence on 17 June 2008, with the requirement that all transactions on eBay must be paid for using PayPal or cash on pickup.
“In light of the serious competition concerns raised in the draft notice and the significant concerns raised by interested parties, I have asked eBay to delay implementation of the second stage of the conduct until a final decision is made by the ACCC,” Mr Samuel said.
eBay and interested parties now have time to lodge submissions in response to the draft notice, before the ACCC decides whether to issue a final notice revoking the notification.
More information regarding the notification and a copy of the draft notice will be available from the ACCC’s website, or by emailing the Adjudication Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Mr Graeme Samuel, Chairman, (03) 9290 1812 or 0408 335 555
* Mr Brent Rebecca, Media Unit, (02) 6243 1317
* Infocentre 1300 302 502
Release # MR 164/08
Issued: 12th June 2008
Related register records
eBay International AG – Notification – N93365
By lodging an exclusive dealing notification with the ACCC, a party obtains immunity from court action for that conduct. In this case, immunity is conferred automatically when the notification is lodged. Once the ACCC receives a notification, it reviews the purpose and effect of the notified conduct. If the ACCC forms the view that the conduct substantially lessens competition, and that it does not deliver a net public benefit, it may issue a draft notice proposing to revoke the notification. After considering any submissions from interested parties in response to the draft notice, and conducting a conference if any of the interested parties call for a conference, the ACCC must decide whether to issue a final notice.
I will continue to report updates to this story and other eBay/PayPal policy developments. Check the “PayPal & eBay Policy” sub-category for all related articles.
Jason De Bord