Just as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs authorities in the UK are updating their policy on Bitcoin, eBay and PayPal are looking to re-evaluate their own approach to virtual currencies.
Last week, PayPal President David Marcus tweeted “To clarify: we have no policies against using PayPal to sell Bitcoin mining rigs. We don’t support any currency txn whether fiat or BTC… for a host of regulatory issues. But we treat BTC and any FX txn the same way. We’re believers in BTC though.
Days after Marcus’ comments hit Twitter feeds, eBay UK sent an email to one of its merchants outlining a plan to update their policy on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin. While eBay UK insisted that virtual currencies “cannot be listed in Auctions or Buy-It-Now formats,” they also made it clear that “eBay is opening a Virtual Currency category to allow the sale of virtual currency in Classified Ads format.” The statement went on to “request that you do not list these items until that date,” warning that breaching the current policy could put users’ accounts statuses in jeopardy. The email further advised that in order “to avoid any inconvenience in future, we’d appreciate it if you go through our help pages or contact us before listing any such items.”
eBay UK spokesman Steve Heywood further explained the policy updates, in an email to CNET, saying “The updated policy clarifies that listings for Bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies must be listed in the Virtual Currency Category in the Classified Ad format. This applies to both the US (effective immediately) and the UK (effective 10 February).”
Though Marcus is himself a supporter (and private owner) of bitcoins, and eBay has opened up more options for Bitcoin, PayPal is not yet ready to allow payment with the virtual currency. In an interview with Stephen Shankland, Marcus said they (PayPal) will consider it, “[when] the regulatory framework is clearer, and the volatility comes down.”
It is currently unclear whether eBay’s new Bitcoin-friendly policy will be implemented in countries outside the US and the UK.