Auction Web site eBay Australia today acknowledged it had changed its recommended escrow service agent after incumbent provider Trade Secure elected to stop taking on new clients.
An eBay Australia spokesperson, Siobhan Mitchell, told ZDNet Australia eBay had decided to recommend provider Escrow Australia as "we understand that Trade Secure is no longer providing escrow services to eBay members".
Mitchell said the recommendation had been made "due to the importance of escrow as a part of safe trading," adding that the company "may make additional recommendations to our members for alternative escrow services in the future". She said earlier the recommendation was based on services and a discount price offered by Escrow Australia to eBay members.
Trade Secure elected to stop accepting transactions as of July, citing problems with fraudulent Web sites and recently mooted the possible closure of the company. However, a Trade Secure director, Dan Walsh, said within the last couple of days that no decision had yet been made. ZDNet Australia understands Walsh is involved in both Trade Secure and Escrow Australia, but he declined to be further interviewed after earlier on the record conversations.
According to the Escrow Australia Web site, the company is an Australian owned and operated escrow service that works with eBay Australia and New Zealand.
However, another issue has emerged to muddy the waters. Ross Cowie, the former owner of Australian Escrow Services, the escrow service agent that eBay recommended prior to Trade Secure, claimed Escrow Australia was using a trading name still registered to a former company of his.
Cowie also added that his former company, which was sold to Brambles Australia 10 months ago, had opted to move away from servicing online person-to-person transactions due to fraudulent Web sites copying their company's logo and information.
He said Trade Secure was going through similar difficulties that their company went through more than two years ago when they lost AU$85,000 as a result of fraudulent Web sites.
Cowie currently handles the escrow services for Brambles Australia and says he is certain that his old company still owns the trading name Escrow Australia. However, he said they are open to talks with eBay's recommended provider regarding the trading name registration.
"The matter of the name has not been resolved but we are willing to go into talks with [Escrow Australia] about it," Cowie said.
eBay Australia has also recently appointed former director of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) Alastair MacGibbon as Trust and Safety director for Australia and New Zealand. MacGibbon will be responsible for the Australian and New Zealand division of eBay's international Trust & Safety team led by former US federal prosecutor Rob Chesnut.