Today eBay said it would spend $945 million to buy online payment company Bill Me Later, but the folks over at Amazon.com aren’t likely to welcome eBay as Bill Me Later’s new corporate overlords. Amazon holds an equity stake in the payment processing company and is its top customer — with competitor eBay moving to buy it, Amazon has some thinking to do.
Amazon doesn’t have a board seat at Bill Me Later, and as such was probably not involved in the acquisition talks. The question now is whether it will continue to offer Bill Me Later as a payment option. As far as merchants go, Bill Me Later is cheaper than credit cards. But so far Amazon.com, which previously scorned PayPal because of its ties to eBay, has been non-committal about its plans. It said in a statement, “Currently, Bill Me Later is still available as a payment option on our site, but I can’t speculate as to whether we’ll continue to offer them going forward.”
From a payments perspective, eBay has chosen wisely with this buy. PayPal is a debit-oriented program, while Bill Me Later caters to those who are shy about using their credit cards online but don’t want to deal with the hassle of PayPal by offering them credit after they enter their information. While that may seem downright foolish in this economic environment, Bill Me Later investor Mike Kwatinetz of Azure Capital Partners says the company is able to quickly adjust the amount of credit it offers customers.
PayPal has the largest number of the top online retailers using its service, but Bill Me Later has an opportunity to process more transactions, according to data issued last month by research firm Cowen & Co. PayPal’s penetration rate of the top 300 U.S. e-commerce companies rose to 35 percent as of September from 28 percent at the end of last year, but Bill Me Later has $31.6 billion in addressable sales, compared to $26.1 billion for PayPal. Bill Me Later’s top customers (other than Amazon) include OfficeMax, Apple, Newegg, and QVC. Underscoring Amazon’s eBay aversion? All of those merchants also accept PayPal.