What are the factors that have contributed to the growth of e-commerce? I think basic trust is an important one, followed closely with information security improvements (e.g. SSL). However, one factor has long been in place before the internet: Payments and remittance infrastructure, beginning with the post office, banks and their money transfer mechanisms, credit cards and ending with PayPal.
eBay bought PayPal in 2002, for $1.5B. At the time, they had already acquired Billpoint, but had failed to gain marketshare against PayPal. in 2002, 25% of eBay transactions were settled using PayPal. In 2000, the rate was almost zero. Meg Whitman had commented back then that the target rate was over 60%.
I have not been able to find out what that rate currently is, but browsing eBay, it’s easy to see that it must be very high.
I wonder if the infrastructure for peer-to-peer payment systems would disappear overnight, what would happen. Would volume on eBay decrease permanently? Would nervous shoppers move to stronger-brand merchants like Amazon, from the unknown counterparts on eBay?
I suspect so… So for the markets where the auction market is still immature, is the infrastructure still too undeveloped? I think an opportunity is hidden in the infrastructure side.