Skype announced Tuesday that the popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service would soon allow PayPal payments, further opening the service for business transactions.
Niklas Zennstrom, Skype CEO and cofounder, speaking at a communications conference in San Jose, California, said that the service will allow users to send PayPal payments to other Skype users. There were 171 million registered Skype users by the end of last year.
PayPal is already used as the most popular way for Skype users to pay for its premium services, such as calls to regular phones. Currently, Skype's phone service is free if made from computer-to-computer, but there are several other premium, add-on services available.
The payment option, appropriately called Send Money, allows a PayPal user, who is also a Skype user, to log on and choose an amount to send to another Skype user. Although Zennstrom didn't name a launch date, a company spokesperson said the service would be made available in about a month.
Skype Find, Skype Prime
Other Skype business services have been announced recently. Skype Find offers a way to find local business listings that have been offered and rated within the Skype community. Skype Prime, currently in beta, allows users to offer and sell services, such as advice or answers, to other Skype users.
Third-party developers are being encouraged by the company to see Skype as more of a multifaceted service in which voice is only one feature. Skype Extras, recently launched, provides an arena for such outside products and services. For example, the KiskKisk Lie Detector, available as a free download, offers "a tool to detect the stress level of the person" with whom you are talking.
Founded in 2002 by Zennstrom and Janus Friis, Skype was purchased in 2005 by eBay for about $2.6 billion in cash and company stock. "The acquisition will strengthen eBay's global marketplace and payments platform," the company said in a statement at the time. "Skype, eBay, and PayPal will create an unparalleled e-commerce and communications engine for buyers and sellers around the world."
Voice-Based Trading Next?
This kind of integration with PayPal is hardly surprising, according to Will Stofega, research manager at technology research firm IDC. When the merger with eBay took place, he recalled, "closer ties with PayPal and other parts of the corporate family were specifically mentioned as reasons why it made sense."
PayPal is the primary way to make payments on eBay, he said, and this might be the "first step toward voice-based trading on eBay." Some trials and testing for this have already taken place, he noted.
A big, "unlocked value" for Skype, he said, "is how to attack the enterprise market. It could have a big impact if they could only say, 'Ok, Mr. Enterprise, Skype can add all kinds of services for pennies,' and package an enterprise version."
Skype plays in its own space, he said, and that space is beginning to fill up with a variety of added services.