eBay to take India-designed payment service PaisaPay global

An eBay sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California May 28, 2014. REUTERS/BECK DIEFENBACH

US-based online marketplace eBay Inc. plans to launch solutions developed at its technology centre in Bengaluru in other geographies. The company is working on launching its India payment service PaisaPay to some of its other markets.

PaisaPay helps customers transfer money to a temporary account until they receive the item and releases the money to the seller once the receipt is confirmed.

“PaisaPay is the trust infrastructure that we built for the India market,” eBay chief technology officer Steve Fisher said. “There are other countries in the world which have similar needs, so we are starting to examine how we can take those kinds of inventions to other countries.

“This is particularly interesting because until very recently, we had PayPal and so payments was kind of what PayPal did. Now, we don’t have PayPal anymore. We are still obviously huge supporters of PayPal, but there are opportunities to do more,” he said.

PayPal Holdings Inc., founded by Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and others, was acquired by eBay in 2002 and spun off last year into an independent publicly traded company listed on the Nasdaq.

eBay is also going to roll out a registration process developed entirely in India, and is testing a new, easier way of signing up users on smartphones.

“You don’t think of identity and passwords as an area for innovation, but actually it is. We are moving into the era of mobile phones, so do we even need a password anymore? So, we are experimenting with ideas like that and that’s happening here in India,” said Fisher.

Unlike bigger rival Amazon.com Inc., eBay has been slow to customize its product and other offerings to Indian customers despite launching its India operations several years before Amazon. Even now, eBay’s India app mostly resembles its app in the US.

eBay’s first development centre in India was set up in 2007, but it entered India back in 2004 by acquiring Bazee.com, an auction site. Amazon launched its India operations in 2013.

eBay is now overhauling its underlying search technology in all of its markets to make better, data-driven recommendations for its users and give them a better search experience.

Typically, items are catalogued according to specific terms that make it easier for a search engine on a website to show relevant results. However, because eBay is a marketplace with thousands of sellers and hundreds of millions of users, often an item can get indexed with several different names.

This prevents users from getting accurate results and makes it difficult for the company to understand what is being sold on its site. eBay, which offers 800 million items, is using machine learning to give structure to all the data it has.

“If you want to buy anything, you can probably find it on eBay, and we probably answer that better than anyone else. That’s kind of our core strength. The core challenge we have is, we mostly don’t know what we have. That’s because of the lack of structured data, and given that we don’t really know what we have, it makes it very difficult to give a great experience,” said Fisher.

eBay is incrementally rolling out modules, like specific pages for specific categories, that make this experience better in the US, UK and Australia. More countries will get to see these new features soon. The new browsing experience will also allow eBay to gain visibility on search engines such as Google.

“If most of the way people interact with us is through search, that means that other websites can’t really point to persistent pages, URLs on eBay and that, particularly, is difficult because there are search engines that don’t really send you any traffic if they don’t really have anything persistent to index. This is not the core reason we are doing this, but this is a pretty big deal,” said Fisher.

Personalization, effective search and user experience are core areas for an e-commerce company, said Ashvin Vellody, partner, e-commerce and start-ups, at consultancy firm KPMG India.

“Making search more relevant and improving the browsing experience are key to getting customers to come back to your website. Companies should also focus on keeping their search engine up to date and constantly make improvements to the search experience,” he said.

Also read:

US e-commerce giant eBay plans to open office in Indonesia

EBay India sees revenue growth slowdown as rivals Flipkart, Snapdeal double sales

Activist investor Icahn swaps eBay stake with equal amount of PayPal shares

This story was first published on Livemint

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.