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EBay, PayPal see a very mobile future

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EBay (s ebay) and its payment subsidiary PayPal’s mobile business is growing so fast that it’s hard to predict where things will end up, even months into the future. That’s one of the takeaways from the last year in which PayPal had to constantly revise its mobile payment predictions as payment volumes kept rising.

If you recall, PayPal said in the fall of 2010 that it expected to do some $1.5 billion in mobile payment volume for 2011 based on the $750 million in mobile payments it did in 2010. In April, it upped its estimate for 2011 to $2 billion, and then again in June, it revised its prediction, saying $3 billion in volume. By October, it said it now believed it was on pace to do $3.5 billion in mobile payment volume by the end of 2011. So how much mobile business did PayPal actually do? $4 billion, the company said this week at CES.

This isn’t about calling out PayPal for faulty predictions, but to point out that mobile is growing far faster than the company imagined. Mobile payment volume went from $750 million in 2010 to $4 billion a year later. That highlights the shift that’s happening as more and more payments, transactions and business flows through mobile devices.

EBay is also seeing this first hand. It did nearly $2 billion in mobile gross merchandise value in 2010, and then recorded $5 billion last year. Now, eBay is predicting it will do $8 billion in mobile GMV and PayPal will do $7 billion in mobile payment volume this year. Those numbers are a fraction of what the company does in total GMV on eBay and payment volume via PayPal, but the projected growth is very big, outpacing the company’s overall growth, and it reflects just how fast mobile is expanding. And if the past year is any indication, eBay could be very well be off in terms of how much volume actually flows through mobile.

We saw that this holiday season was boosted by mobile in a big way. IBM (s ibm) reported earlier this week that 14.6 percent of all online sessions on a retailer’s site in December came from a mobile device, compared to 5.6 percent over the same period in 2010. IBM also said that sales from mobile devices doubled, reaching 11 percent of all online purchases versus 5.5 percent in December 2010. That no doubt helped online retails sales grow by 7.5 percent in December over the previous year.

This shift to mobile is increasingly going to become the norm, not just a holiday phenomenon. People are turning to mobile devices and they’re getting very comfortable with the idea of buying and paying through them. EBay is seeing this in a big way, but others will too if they aren’t already.

2 Responses to “EBay, PayPal see a very mobile future”

  1. As far as SAVING/BUYING and eBay goes:

    If you send the seller a question about an item, find another of their listings, and send the question from that item page, rather than from the one that you actually want. This will add a little bit of work for the seller, if they want to add the question/answer to the item description page that you are actually interested in.

    If you see an item that you want listed in auction format, send the seller a message asking if they will accept $x to end the auction early and sell the item to you. May be telling them that they would not have to wait as long to get their money (they would probably know that, but it still might help). If that does not work, use a sniping service such as to bid for you. It’ll bid in the last few seconds, helping you to save money and avoid shill bidding.

    Use a site like to set up saved searches. You’d get an e-mail whenever a match is listed. Especially good for “Buy It Now”s priced right.

    If the item that you are looking for is difficult to spell, try a misspelling search site like to hopefully find some deals with items that have main keywords misspelled in the title. Other interested buyers might never see them. Then, if the item is listed an auction format, after a few days of no bids (hopefully anyway) send the seller and offer to end the auction early and sell the item to you. They may worry that no one is interested, and take whatever they can get.