Facebook and eBay will deepen their relationship at a developer conference this week, according to a person familiar with the e-commerce company, cited by Reuters. The new partnership may or may not be tied to a new online identification service for shoppers called PayPal Access that eBay reportedly wants to announce as well.
The new optional service will supposedly let users shop across the Web using just their PayPal email credentials and password, eliminating the need to type in credit card information, billing and shipping addresses, or any age verification requirements.
Merchants who sign up for the service will only see customers' shipping addresses because PayPal will be the one verifying the other information. The pitch to merchants will be simple: shoppers should be more likely to complete purchases since they won't be inundated with requests for information at checkout. eBay would of course benefit by having more merchants accept PayPal as a payment option.
eBay's X.commerce Innovate conference is taking place on October 12, 13, and 14 in San Francisco. Here's an official description of the X.Commerce platform:
The X.commerce platform leverages the collective power of eBay Marketplaces, PayPal, GSI Commerce, and Magento* so merchants can thrive in the commerce ecosystem. Technology and services are accessed through a simple cloud-based model; this helps merchants grow, along with the developers, systems integrators, agencies, consultants and service providers who make it happen.
The company expects almost 4,000 people to attend its conference, aimed to mark the official launch of the company's new X.commerce division, which will target e-commerce software developers. The online auction and shopping website is trying to encourage outside developers to create applications for its e-commerce platforms with a particularly strong push in mobile commerce.
Last month, a separate rumor suggested PayPal and Facebook are going to announce something bigger than they've ever made before. The venue for the unveiling was also eBay's X.commerce Innovate conference.
This rumor was quickly followed by Katie Mitic, who leads Platform and Mobile Marketing for Facebook, joining eBay's Board of Directors. Unsurprisingly, this further fueled the fire that was suggesting the two companies were working on a new tie-up.
To further cement the speculation, Mitic is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at the X.commerce conference on Wednesday. Since we're taking about a Facebook executive joining eBay's Board of Directors, and not the other way around, I would think eBay is interested in leveraging Facebook to bolster its services, as opposed to launching a Facebook app.
So far, Facebook supports PayPal's micropayments product and allows developers to use PayPal to purchase Facebook Credits. It's not clear what additional integration eBay and Facebook will announce, but it will likely be an attempt to make commerce more social. One possibility is that PayPal will try to offer deeper Facebook integration with its deals.
Facebook and PayPal are already pretty good pals. Earlier this year, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin said Facebook could become the "most valuable company in the world." Few people know this, but back in June 2004, Facebook received its first investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Given PayPal's plans to push the virtual wallet, and Facebook's desire to give Credits a boost, I wonder if the two will one day partner around the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. For those who don't know, NFC allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other. It's has the potential to be huge for mobile payments, once it is supported by enough retailers and smartphones.