After two years, eBay gains approval to open PayPal for business in Russia. Or not.

After two years, eBay gains approval to open PayPal for business in Russia. Or not.

E-commerce juggernaut eBay perhaps gained approval from the Central Bank of Russia to maybe open a domestic PayPal business and to possibly operate as a non-credit banking institution in the country.

We’re not really sure, because eBay’s global government relations team recently blogged about getting the license to operate PayPal in Russia, then pulled the announcement from its Main Street blog, and local representatives appear to be confused about what they’re supposed to be telling press now.

Fortunately, the cached version of the blog post lives on (also see screenshot below), as do several tweets linking back to it.

The announcement reads (well, read):

“eBay Inc. Government Relations is pleased to announce that this week the Central Bank of the Russia (CBR) approved PayPal’s Non-Credit Banking Institution (NCBI) application.

The NCBI license was a requirement stemming from a National Payments Law passed by the Russian Duma and signed by then-President Dmitri Medvedev in 2011.

This license, a product of over two years of work by a core team of PayPal business unit and central function staff, will allow PayPal to operate a domestic business in Russia. The journey toward the NCBI license involved Government Relations arranging for and directly meeting with several departments in the CBR over many months, and educating and training CBR officials on how PayPal and electronic payments systems operate successfully around the world.

eBay Inc. and PayPal are happy to open up yet another domestic market, making it easier for all of our customers to buy and sell across borders.”

‘Pleased’ and ‘happy’. Drinks all around. But then the blog post vanished.

The odd thing is that the news was reported by several outlets following the announcement, and now a number of media in Russia and Russian-speaking countries are receiving vague statements from local reps.

Ain reports that a spokesperson of eBay Russia said PayPal was not given a license to operate in the country, while Digit reports that local PayPal representatives were unable to confirm either way.

Digit also notes that PayPal didn’t appear on the list of licensed non-credit banking institutions on the Central Bank of Russia website yesterday.

In a recent interview with EcommerceBytes, Steve Milton, director of global communications for eBay International, touted the opportunities for the digital commerce giant to grow in Russia.

He said eBay currently accounts for only 3 percent to 4 percent of e-commerce activity, yet still stands as the leading player in a highly fragmented marketplace.

“Why we are investing so rapidly in Russia and China, is a lot of eBay future growth … is going to come from markets like Russia and China,” Milton said. Its chief competitor in Russia is (or will be) Yandex.

But for now, we’re not 100 percent certain if eBay received the green light from the Central Bank of Russia or not. We’ve reached out to the company and will update when warranted.


Top image credit: Eric Piermont for AFP / Getty Images

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