EBay’s announcement today that it is acquiring Braintree, the next-generation global payment platform, for $800 million in cash is one more indication that the ship is beginning to turn at PayPal under its president David Marcus. In the race to mobile dominance, Marcus has freely acknowledged that PayPal needed to change, to become less bloated and inward facing and more open to developers. The acquisition of Braintree fits right in with this strategy. Braintree is an innovative online and mobile platform provider that enables 1-click purchasing for more than 40 million customers over 40 countries and about 4000 merchants, including many of the fasted growing companies in mobile, such as Hotel Tonight, OpenTable, LivingSocial, Airbnb, Uber and Fab.
Javelin’s most recent report Mobile Wallet Game Changers demonstrated that PayPal is leading the race for consumer likelihood to use its mobile wallet over other major brands. Braintree expects to process about $12 billion annually in total payments volume, of which $4 billion (1/3) will be mobile. For comparison, PayPal controls 132 million active accounts, and projects $20 billion in mobile payments for 2013, up 42% from 2012. While PayPal has become infamous for its automated responses to problems, Braintree excels in keeping good relations with its merchant community through its white gloved personalized treatment and easy-to-integrate payment gateway API.
PayPal continually alienated the financial community through its steering to low cost ACH. Braintree, in contrast, has attempted to remain a Switzerland of neutrality, focusing instead on smoothing the sales conversion process by allowing the customer to use any funding source they desire. In the new mobile/social tech cycle, market dominance is currently being fought over by platform players like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, and now, eBay/PayPal, all of which Javelin will be covering in an upcoming report. It remains to be seen how eBay and Braintree/Venmo will mesh, but in the race for mobile dominance, scale will be critical. Care for a Stripe anyone?