SkypeBay is looking more and more like Meg Whitman’s Master Stroke

The dust is slowly settling on the Skype-eBay wedlock – which left many of us strategy observers scratching our heads (the sky high valuation is a different matter, though). Om Malik does not like the deal [But he has a good round up of opinions from many experts].  As the details slowly emerge, this is looking like a game-changing event. 1. First, Erick Schonfeld caught my attention with his brilliant hypothesis Skype+PayPal = Microbank.  We all know that PayPal does have a longtail problem and I had already theorized about Google chasing PayPal’s Longtail. 2. Skype announces a marketplace where you can use Skype Credits to buy products/services. (Via Murli – he has some interesting thoughts on this). 3. Couple of weeks back, Carlo posted an interesting article on Techdirt about how Prepaid Cellphone Airtime Credits is emerging as a currency in developing nations. People are using these credits to settle debts etc. Now if you put all of this together, its easy to see how Skype Credits could become the new micropayment currency we have all been waiting for. The beauty of this is that, you can transfer funds to your PayPal account from your regular bank account for free.
Therefore, if Skype Credits account is linked to your PayPal account, you can easily convert regular money for Skype Credits. In the reverse way, if you can earn Skype Credits through your services/products, you can either transfer it back to your bank account through Paypal (for a small fee) or you can use it to buy other provider’s services (for a very small fee for the provider), you have a well-designed micropayment platform.   We can fully expect Skype Credits to be the currency of choice for so much stuff on the Internet, that we can’t reasonably charge for, due to the transaction fee costs. Especially the developing nations may adopt this more rapidly. In summary, I think eBay has truly solved PayPal’s Longtail problem and is positioning itself to be the key toll booth on the Internet leveraging Paypal’s penetration into the e-commerce payments marketplace.  I think the sky is really the limit depending on how well Skype Credits are marketed as a currency in the physical world. Notes:
1. Skype can be used from Cell Phones using IPDrum (Via Engadget).  Since this solution still needs a computer, which is a problem in developing nations, Skype needs to come up with a BREW/J2ME application that can be installed onto the cell phone that can use the GPRS/EDGE/EVDO data services of the cell phone network. 2. Previous attempts in developing an alternate currency to solve the micropayments problem like Flooz, Beenz etc. failed.