Tim’s earlier post covered a lot of the highlights from his on- and off-stage conversations with eBay CEO Meg Whitman. But he didn’t touch on one of the most interesting themes of their interview: whether eBay/PayPal’s powerful knowledge about who you are—which they use to prevent fraud—could also be the basis for authenticating social network relationships.
Over and over, Summit speakers have talked about the growing desire and need for social software that recognizes your existing online networks. Could PayPal offer a service that would help bridge this gap? “Potentially,” said Whitman. “We’ve thought a lot about this, and there are interesting long-term possibilities.” Even if there isn’t an imminent product, such a service would be a terrific turn on the “data is the Intel inside” idea.
Along similar lines, when Whitman mentioned that fraud modeling techniques are a core competence of eBay’s, Tim suggested that they offer fraud protection as a service. Of course, fraud protection may be a big competitive advantage for the company at the moment. But as the Web tends to decentralize advantageous conditions, it will be interesting to see whether eBay builds on their own success with PayPal’s merchant services and translates their fraud prevention knowledge into a business of its own.