As Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Get Report) buys Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) and agrees to sell Alexa-enabled appliances from Sears (SHLD) , Jeff Bezos is getting creative about expanding the e-commerce juggernaut's marketplace.
One way to boost Amazon's merchandise volume would be to accept payments from PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL - Get Report) , which was once part of digital commerce-rival eBay Inc. (EBAY - Get Report) but recently celebrated its second anniversary as an independent payments processor. Amazon would be joining tech elites such as Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) , Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL - Get Report) Google and Facebook Inc. (FB - Get Report) that have struck partnerships with PayPal in recent months.
The animus between Amazon and eBay probably does not extend to PayPal,Wedbush Securities LLC analyst Michael Pachter suggested.
"I can understand why Amazon would do nothing to help PayPal when it was apart of eBay," Pachter said. "Similarly Amazon should embrace PayPal now that its not part of eBay because its mutually beneficial to do so."
Shares of PayPal have been volatile since the company announced second-quarter earnings of 46 cents per share after the close Wednesday, topping forecasts by 3 cents. PayPal was down nearly 1.4% to $58.01 on Thursday afternoon, but had been up 4% at $61.30 earlier in the day.
When eBay bought PayPal for $1.4 billion in stock in 2002, then-CEO Meg Whitman promised that the deal would "capture greater value from the e-commerce opportunities occurring both on and off our site." PayPal CEO Peter Thiel said that "beauty of this deal is that it will allow us to offer our communities new tools and added flexibility to do more business."
Carl Icahn took issue with that logic in 2014 and argued that the companies would be worth more if eBay broke off PayPal. The spin-off of PayPal occurred in July 2015.
In recent months, PayPal has struck agreements with prominent tech companies.
CEO Dan Schulman outlined some of the recent agreements during PayPal's call on Wednesday. Apple expanded its integration of PayPal into iTunes, the Apple App Store, iBooks, Apple Music, and iTunes stores in 12 countries, including the U.S., Australia, and parts of Europe, he said, adding that PayPal is already integrated with Siri.
Google recently arranged to have PayPal payments in Android Pay in stores, in apps or online, Schulman said, and more than one million of Facebook Messenger subscribers had enabled PayPal payments in messenger.
Amazon launched PayPal competitor Amazon Cash in April, allowing customers to add funds to their balance. It also offers co-branded credit cards.
PayPal's 210 million active account holders could aid Amazon's efforts to boost spending in its marketplaces. Moreover, Pacter suggested, Amazon could expand its business with the unbanked population that does not have an account at an insured financial institution.
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The FDIC estimated in 2015 that 7% of the U.S. population does not have an account at an insured bank, and about 24.5% is underbanked, obtaining financial services outside the banking industry.
"A giant number of people in the U.S. don't have a bank account," Pachter said. "They still have money; they have a job (and are able to) buy stuff." PayPal expanded its coverage of unbanked and underbanked shoppers with its $230 million purchase of Tio Networks earlier in July, and could help Amazon tap the market.
Wall Street expects Amazon's gross merchandise volume to exceed $330 billion in 2017, according to FactSet. Pachter suggested that PayPal could boost Amazon's GMV by a single-digit percentage, and "not less than 1%," it could add billions annually.
Pachter does not expect Amazon to follow eBay's example and buy PayPal, however.
"I don't understand why they would even consider doing such a thing," he said. Given Amazon's use of outside partners to handle its co-branded credit cards, the analyst suggested that the company does not desire to operate its own payment shop.
With a $70 billion market cap, PayPal would cost more than five times what Amazon is paying for Whole Foods. That would be a big payment for even Amazon to process.
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