PayPal is being ditched by eBay at a time when Apple is rolling out its own more firmly seeded “Apple Pay” venture, and those two events cannot be coincidence. eBay is making the tacit statement that it believes PayPal’s value is at a peak, and it wants to cash out now while it can. Part of that sentiment is that PayPal never did manage to rise much above the niche of remote online payments, largely failing to crack the point of sale market that Apple has gained an instant foothold in. But rather than merely being a point of no return for PayPal, what if this is about something else? Various suitors may be ripe to gobble up PayPal in order to compete with Apple. Here are our top three potential buyers.
Google: Android was first to incorporate payments, but it never took off. Now Apple is suddenly hitting the ground running with several major retail partners lined up to accept Apple Pay at their locations. While PayPal doesn’t have that infrastructure, it is a finance company – and could be integrated into the Android platform as a way of trying to offer some kind of counter-move.
Samsung: See above. Samsung rarely passes up an opportunity to copy one of Apple’s major moves, and acquiring PayPal could be a quick way to create the appearance of doing something on the payments side. The difficulty: Samsung doesn’t control the Android platform or the on-screen interface of its own devices, and would have a particularly difficult time of integrating payments.
Microsoft: With the Windows Mobile and Surface platforms in total freefall, spending billions on PayPal would do nothing to boost those failed product lines and would essentially make no practical sense. But Microsoft has endless cash to burn, and as bizarre acquisitions like Skype have shown, a buyout doesn’t have to make sense for Redmond to be interested in doing it.