eBay’s John Donahoe Seeing a “Staggering Surge” in Mobile Shopping

EBay has revised its mobile revenue figures, once again.

In what is becoming a routine move, the company said today during its second-quarter earnings release that it is now expecting eBay and PayPal mobile to each transact $10 billion in volume this year.

“That’s more than double 2011,” said eBay’s CEO John Donahoe, who called it “a staggering surge” in mobile commerce that did not exist just a few years ago.

As recently as January, eBay was predicting that mobile shopping — either through its apps or the browser on either a phone or tablet — would hit $8 billion in mobile gross merchandise volume in 2012. Likewise, PayPal was expected to hit another $7 billion in mobile total payment volume.

Last year’s numbers were similarly revised multiple times before the end of the year, when eBay’s final mobile tally stood at $5 billion and PayPal’s totaled $4 billion.

“The line is blurring between online and offline, and that behavior is happening because of the investments we have made in mobile,” he said.

As part of the company’s second-quarter conference call, analysts peppered Donahoe with questions about whether these sales were incremental to the company’s traditional business. However, he dismissed those fears; if someone wants to buy a car part while under the hood or while walking down the street, they better let them.

“We believe it is helping our growth rate and helping us be the leader in mobile commerce and payments,” Donahoe added.

It’s hard to say which retailer is a leader in mobile. Others, such as Amazon, have been reluctant to disclose how much traffic is coming from mobile devices. Donahoe said there are obvious leaders, like Amazon and eBay, but beyond that he questions if other retailers are doing significant revenue on mobile.

“If you think of it as an app-based world, we aren’t going to carry around a Neiman Marcus app and a Walmart app and a Best Buy app. By being a marketplace, it’s a single app that gives you access to a lot of things. That’s why we are getting viral traction on it.”

Just yesterday, eBay announced it acquired Card.io for an undisclosed price. The year-old company allows users to skip the tedious process of entering their credit number into various fields at check-out by taking a picture of the card. With that technology under its belt, Donahoe said you can envision a world where you take a snapshot of a credit card and a driver’s license to create a PayPal account.

“Consumer acquisition leads to user engagement, which leads to merchant ubiquity,” he said.

Other figures released today:

  • eBay apps have been downloaded 90 million times, up from 65 million in January.
  • People are using the apps to list almost two million devices every week, and a handbag is purchased every 30 seconds.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work