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eBay and PayPal Confirm Upcoming Separation, Support for Bitcoin Payments

Op-ed - eBay and PayPal Confirm Upcoming Separation

In September 2014, eBay announced plans to separate eBay and PayPal. In a recent SEC filing, eBay confirmed that a newly formed corporation named PayPal Holdings, Inc. (“PayPal”) will take over the businesses that make up eBay’s payments segment. eBay, the existing publicly traded corporation, will continue to operate its marketplaces business.

The separation, which will provide current eBay stockholders with equity ownership in both eBay and PayPal, will be effected by means of a pro rata distribution of 100 percent of the outstanding shares of PayPal common stock to holders of eBay common stock.

“As two distinct publicly traded corporations, eBay and PayPal will be better positioned to capitalize on significant growth opportunities and focus their resources on their respective businesses and strategic priorities,” reads the eBay announcement. “As independent companies, we expect eBay and PayPal will be sharper and stronger, and more focused and competitive as leading, standalone companies in their respective markets. eBay and PayPal also will benefit from additional flexibility and agility to pursue new market and partnership opportunities.”

“Following the distribution of all of the outstanding shares of PayPal common stock by eBay Inc. to its stockholders, PayPal will be an independent, publicly traded company focused on making money work better for people and businesses around the world,” says Daniel H. Schulman, President and CEO-Designee of PayPal Holdings. “The access to and movement of money is an important market that affects the lives of almost everyone. Our mission is to increase our relevance for consumers, merchants, friends and family to access and move their money anywhere in the world, anytime, on any platform and through any device (e.g., mobile, tablets, personal computers or wearables).”

In the SEC filing, eBay and PayPal confirm that merchants with a standard PayPal account also can integrate with Braintree to begin accepting bitcoin payments.

Payment processor Braintree, which was acquired by eBay for USD $800 million in September 2013, will be part of PayPal Holdings under the new structure. Braintree permits merchants to accept bitcoin payments seamlessly in partnership with Coinbase, allowing their customers to pay with bitcoin instantly and securely on any device without manually transferring bitcoin or scanning QR codes. The Braintree bitcoin payments service, currently in public beta, has zero transaction fees on the first $1 million in bitcoin sales and a 1 percent fee for cashing out bitcoin to a bank account.

“Sell your products and services in the currency of your choice and let your customers pay with Bitcoin,” reads Braintree’s invitation to its clients. “We take care of the conversion, transfer, and transaction reporting that fits in with your existing Braintree workflow. Bitcoin transactions are confirmed in less than a few seconds, eliminating chargebacks, which reduces your exposure to online fraud.”

Besides bitcoin, PayPal allows merchants to accept Apple Pay and Venmo payments via Braintree.

The separation of eBay and PayPal, which will take place in 2015 (no exact date is given in the SEC filing) will allow the two companies to more effectively pursue distinct operating priorities and strategies and opportunities for long-term growth and profitability. In particular, PayPal’s management will be able to focus exclusively on its payments business, and enjoy “increased flexibility to pursue new partnership and strategic opportunities that may have previously been unavailable for strategic or other reasons.”

It seems likely that the increased flexibility and exclusive focus on online payments could result in PayPal taking a more active role in the Bitcoin ecosystem.