eBay says it’s open to crypto — it said the same about Bitcoin in 2014

This is a stylized version of the eBay logo to show that it's ready to get into crypto, supposedly.

Ecommerce giant eBay says it’s exploring crypto payments and might even integrate Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) into its sales ecosystem.

Chief exec Jamie Iannone told CNBC the company is still figuring out how to host NFT sales and handle crypto while ensuring an easy user experience.

“One of the great things about eBay is when there is a new trend, it just shows up on eBay,” said Iannone. “That’s what we’re seeing in areas like NFTs and looking at how we can explore that better.”

Iannone however didn’t specify which cryptocurrencies he’s considered. The company president told Reuters that crypto is something eBay is “keeping an eye on.”

San Jose-headquartered eBay already features a crypto-collectibles category with 86 NFTs currently on sale.

Iannone said collectibles have been “on eBay for decades” and will likely remain for decades more.

  • eBay historically relied on PayPal to process payments since its acquisition in 2012.
  • The pair split into separate public companies in 2015 but kept an operating agreement for the next five years.
  • eBay has managed payments internally since the deal expired last June.
This is a screenshot of NFTs sales currently on eBay.
Ultraman NFTs seem popular on eBay.

eBay should participate

No word yet on how the platform might look to solve some of the existential problems plaguing NFT collectors, however. 

Some NFT buyers have complained that their digital art has disappeared. That’s because images and videos bought as NFTs don’t really exist “on the blockchain.” 

Instead, NFT buyers own a cryptographic signature that (when decoded) points to a media file stored somewhere on the internet.

The NFT ecosystem is centralized. eBay could help with that.

If eBay is serious about providing a hassle-free NFT experience for its 187 million users, it might look to run its own IPFS node to ensure files tied to NFTs it handles are always available.

We’ve heard this before

It’s worth noting that eBay was once a hub for Bitcoin auctions. The crypto category (which allows Bitcoin, mining contracts, and other related assets) has been live since 2014.

In fact, over seven years ago in January 2014, sources told reporters that eBay was considering adopting Bitcoin via PayPal. Then chief exec John Donahoe said the exact same thing six months earlier.

What year is it?

But if eBay follows through this time, the internet staple would join PayPal and WeWork in integrating cryptocurrency payments to their core systems this year.

PayPal subsidiary Venmo also rolled out crypto support last month, letting users buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. 

Major New York auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s even moved to welcome crypto bids in the past few weeks.

[Read more: Coinbase to handle Bitcoin and Ether for Sotheby’s $3M Banksy auction]

Not to mention, electric vehicle kingpin Tesla started accepting Bitcoin for purchases in late March.