This afternoon the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, an independent statutory authority formed in 1995 to administer the Trade Practices Act 1974 and other acts in Australia, issued a press release regarding it’s intent toward the pending PayPal only policy change from eBay.com.au.

The press release says:

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft notice proposing to revoke a notification* lodged by eBay International A.G. on 11 April 2008. Under the notification, eBay proposes to mandate the use of PayPal for almost all transactions on the eBay site.

“The ACCC is concerned that the notified conduct will allow eBay to use its market power in the supply of online marketplaces to substantially lessen competition in the market in which PayPal operates,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

“PayPal currently competes with a range of other providers to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces. If the notified conduct is allowed to go ahead, there will be no competition for the supply of such services to buyers and sellers using eBay.

“Given eBay’s position as Australia’s leading online marketplace, the notified conduct will substantially reduce competition to supply online payment services to users of online marketplaces more generally.

“The ACCC acknowledges that having PayPal as the only payment provider has the potential to deliver some benefits to users, such as increased buyer protection insurance in certain circumstances. However, the ACCC believes that consumers are in the best position to decide which payment method is most suitable for them.

“The notified conduct denies them that choice. Accordingly, the ACCC considers that these benefits do not outweigh the anti-competitive effects of the conduct,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay proposes to implement the conduct in two stages. From 21 May 2008, all sellers on eBay were required to offer PayPal as one of their accepted payment methods. The second stage of the conduct is due to commence on 17 June 2008, with the requirement that all transactions on eBay must be paid for using PayPal or cash on pickup.

“In light of the serious competition concerns raised in the draft notice and the significant concerns raised by interested parties, I have asked eBay to delay implementation of the second stage of the conduct until a final decision is made by the ACCC,” Mr Samuel said.

eBay and interested parties now have time to lodge submissions in response to the draft notice, before the ACCC decides whether to issue a final notice revoking the notification.

So, big news for eBay buyers and sellers in Australia today. This doesn’t put the nail in the coffin just yet though, it’s a stall for more time to make a better informed decision. The ACCC will take a little more time and listen to both sides of the story in a little more detail.

As it stands though, I think it is likely the ACCC will bloke eBay’s policy change plans.