Pete Cashmore from Mashable has posted an blurb via Skype Journal regarding the integration of PayPal into the Skype client. There was a discussion over at either TechCrunch or GigaOm about the disaster that was the Skype purchase by eBay. I had, and still do have, a very different feeling about the purchase. I think it was a great idea for two reasons.
First, eBay charges small, nominal fees to enahnce a seller's listing such as bold listings, picture galleries, top of page listings, highlighted listings, etc. Many people participate and eBay has numbers to support the investment. Now then, large numbers of people were putting "Skype Me" buttons in their listings well before the buy out. However, it requires the editing of HTML, which is more than some sellers can handle. So eBay make a "Skype Me" button a $.50 option when the listing is created. They may even already do this, it's been ages since I've used eBay. No fuss for the seller and they get to keep up with the more technically savvy users already doing this. One thing about eBay is that people will mimic anything they see being used successfully. If one seller with a really high feedback rating has a "Skype Me" button in all of his listings, you can be darn sure that everyone else will want to do so as well. All of those small $.50 transaction start to add up quick when you do the volume that eBay does. Eventually, eBay will start to earn that money back.
The second, and more exciting, use of Skype on eBay will be voice services. Ether already does this, although they have not publically launched yet. Pete, from Mashable, is the only person I've actually seen who uses it and has commented on his experience. Read his post here to get his thoughts. The general idea is that a seller sells his time rather than a tangible good. For example, I create a listing on eBay for technical support on Apple computers. I set my rate at $20/30-minute increment. Someone has a question about their iLife software. This person doesn't have the time or knowledge to peruse forums on the web to find and answer to their question, but they know they can jump on eBay and find someone to answer for a decent price. They search on eBay just like they do for goods and eventually find me. They see my rate and my excellent feedback from people whom I have helped and decide to call me. They call, through Skype, and I walk them through the solution to their problem. Once we have finished, $20 is sent to my PayPal account and I have another satisfied customer. The same use case scenario could be made for any number of services in which people interact and communicate. Tech support, business consulting (which is Pete's specialty), relationship advice, home repair advice, blogging advice, it could really be anything.
What happens when you're so successful that you can't possibly answer all of the calls you have? Why you just join forces with some of the other highly rated experts in your category or hire knowledgeable people like you would any other business. With Skype's real-time presence abilities, you can have a virtual call center of people ready to answer questions and help your customers. If you're not available, the buyer can see that and go to the next available expert. If that person takes the call, you give him a cut of the revenue and keep a bit for yourself for doing nothing but letting him use your good name and reputation. If eBay and Skype are smart, they will build group presence into Skype presence at some point to simplify this process for the users.
So now, you have just exposed your "business" to millions upon millions of potential customers and eBay has tapped into a whole new revenue stream, which investors really like to hear about. Because Skype's communications are encrypted, users can rest easy knowing private conversations won't be compromised. Can't guarantee that with a phone call, especially in light of the recent NSA fiasco. It's a win win situation for everyone. The question is when and will it happen?
Mashable* » Coming Soon: Paypal Payments via Skype