Marketplaces and vaults seem to be popping up all over the hobby. The latest and perhaps the most significant comes from e-commerce giant eBay. But what does it mean and should you use it? To answer all questions, we bring you our full Guide to the eBay card Vault.
Very notably, the PWCC has announced itself as an alternative to eBay. However, eBay has now struck back by announcing its own vaulting service. This project hits at the heart of the PWCC model, which was the primary vault in the hobby until recently. It only branched into the marketplace business after facing a ban from eBay.
So far, buyers and sellers on eBay have used the platform to list cards and guarantee their transactions. However, eBay did not house the cards or hold them at any stage in the transaction process. That changed recently with introducing an authenticity guarantee for cards valued at over $700.
Now eBay is taking the next step. They offer consumers a vault where they can store cards while enjoying full access to the massive eBay marketplace. The Vault is a 31 thousand square foot, secure storage facility. All the vault contents will be integrated fully into the eBay digital marketplace. The e-commerce giant plans to expand the use of the Vault into the luxury goods sector. However, it is notable that the initiative is first used for trading cards. It is yet another indicator of how seriously the company takes this sector and its massive revenue.
Vaulting is a familiar service to long-time collectors. When customers vault their cards, they get storage and security for their cards. But also, many hobbyists value the ability to buy and sell vaulted cards without having to ship cards to and fro. PWCC has been providing this sort of integrative model for a while.
But of course, eBay gets far more traffic than PWCC and is, therefore, potentially a more attractive vaulting option. eBay envisions a change of ownership within seconds and with no hassle for the buyer or seller.
Jordan Sweetnam, the SVP and General Manager of the Americas Market for eBay, explained the company vision for the Vault: “Once an item is in the eBay Vault, customers know their valuables are secure and “instant sale” becomes possible. While many customers will keep their items in the Vault for years, ownership can transfer from seller to buyer in seconds without the need to re-authenticate, re-package, or ship the item once it is in the Vault anywhere. This unlocks a new way to engage with eBay: imagine instantly buying and selling cards and sports memorabilia as a great new rookie lands a play in the final minutes of a tight game.”
Here is how eBay is marketing the new option.
The word vault conjures up those massive holding contraptions in banks; they play a significant role in any self-respecting bank heist movie. It also played a part in the recent Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee documentary, but I digress. Ultimately, the security of cards is the bedrock of a sports card vaulting system.
Here is how eBay is talking up the vault and security aspect of their new service:
The main advantage eBay has over other vaults is the sheer volume of sales on the platform. For example, eBay card sales total approximately $4 billion a year. In addition, it is the default selling forum for most people in the hobby. Therefore, a vault integrated into this massive selling system is convenient for buyers and sellers.
Here is what eBay is promising in terms of improving the eBay buying experience:
Remember that owners are responsible for paying the applicable taxes upon withdrawal from the Vault. In addition, when you sell or purchase a card that is shipped from the eBay vault, eBay will collect sales taxes as required by law.
For many high-volume eBay card sellers, shipping cards is the bane of their existence. Vaulting services save you this hassle, and the eBay version is no different. But of course, unlike other vaults, eBay has a much larger market.
Here is what eBay is promising regarding making life easier for sellers:
eBay recently launched its Authenticity Guarantee program.
There is still plenty we do not know about the eBay vault. Therefore, eBay recommends that you ask for text message updates to keep up to date. To subscribe, text VAULT to 20633 and get the latest launch news and updates.
As we know, eBay is easily the largest platform for sports card sales. They already have a captive audience making up the majority of sellers in the hobby. It is easy to leverage this kind of position into other aspects of the hobby.
There is a tendency towards monopolies in American capitalism. As the money involved in the hobby increases, we see this tendency in all its glory. PSA is running rampant in the grading business and seems set to squeeze out most competitors. Fanatics has bought up the rights to all three major American sports. And now eBay is trying to squeeze out its marketplace competitors by offering new services such as the Vault.
The new vaulting service is part of what eBay is calling its “suite of eBay collector tools.”
The other elements of this approach include:
The goal of these programs is clear. eBay has a massive market share, and it wishes to leverage it into an insurmountable monopoly of sports card sales. Think of how Amazon turned their control of books into the monster it is today, for some idea of how this might pan out.
Sweetnam sees the Vault turning into a cornerstone of eBay’s business model. He predicted, “within a few years, we expect the Vault will hold up to $3 billion in assets, which would make it one of the largest stores of non-governmental assets in the world. Keeping high-value inventory within the eBay ecosystem is great for everyone, and the Vault will make other planned features possible, like fractionalization.”
eBay already has a massive grip on the hobby. However, they have not had a direct grip on our cards so far. The Vault initiative means they will have physical access to cards and wax.
Why does that matter? It opens up all sorts of hobby-related options closed to eBay thus far. For example, it can start to do breaks for wax in its possession and sell fractional pieces of its inventory. In a larger sense, the Vault provides the company with the leverage to potentially control most economic activity within the hobby.
Honestly, it is hard to imagine how competitors like PWCC can challenge this plan from eBay. But they will certainly try.