How is eBay France digitizing art auctions? Interview with Céline Saadeh Bin Ibn, General Manager

Interview with Céline Saadeh Benaben, General Manager of eBay France.

On February 15, eBay launched “Live by eBay,” an online auction platform for artwork and collectibles. How does digitizing the art market open up an environment that has hitherto been highly elitist?

Celine Saada-Benaben: Live by eBay is our new platform: a live online auction experience that takes place every Sunday at 6pm. Every month, about thirty items are offered for sale in the form of a “popcorn” auction. An item is auctioned for 60 seconds, and the timer restarts for 30 seconds with each new bid. If there is no new offer, the item will be sold at the last specified price, if the seller so desires. The platform is for everyone, all you need is an eBay account to bid.

Live by eBay allows easier access to technical stuff and better price transparency. This platform aims to reassure users: they can bid from home – fairs and auction houses remain intimidating and opaque for beginners – and we give them all the information about each of the items for sale. Each item has previously been evaluated and appreciated by independent experts recognized in the art and collectibles market. Items for sale are estimated at between €100 and €2,000 to make sales more affordable. Finally, successful Live by eBay sales (ads and best bid prices) are available on, and buyers can then compare with previous sales before buying. Transactions are secure. We guarantee a high quality buying experience with our 25 years of experience in online auctions.

In short, Live by eBay allows us to expand the base of buyers – or at least those who are interested – to a larger number and democratize access to artwork and collectibles, both in terms of price and price. I don’t need to travel to go crazy about auctions and can try to get something rare at an affordable price.

Celine Saadeh – Benaben: Unlike other marketplaces, eBay does not sell anything on its own account, so we do not compete with sellers registered on our platform. On the contrary, eBay wages are paid through sales.

A face-to-face auction works differently from an online auction. The sometimes tense and always strategic face-to-face encounter of the participants encourages the involuntary dissemination of information that reveals their intentions. Wouldn’t the online auction be…more mysterious?

bad. : In Live by eBay, there is also “face to face” because, even if users have nicknames, they see other people’s bidding and have to fight and speed to win a nice item! What also sets the experience apart is the ‘popcorn’ auction format which makes the experience unique and exciting.

To make the experience as transparent as possible, even online, all items sold at “Live by eBay” auctions are pre-selected by independent art market experts, a guarantee of security and a crucial point for buyers who want to protect themselves from online fraud – but also for eBay who is committed tirelessly to the fight against imitation.

We are also transparent about our pricing policy because the buyer has no additional costs to pay, which really sets us apart from our competitors: the indicated selling price is the final price – and for many items, delivery is free.

Overall, our goal is to make transactions as simple as possible, hence the birth of another project launched in September that is also a resounding success: “eBay Estimate.” The goal of this service in partnership with France Estimations is to allow users to know the value of things they own in the home that they may not be aware of how scarce they are. Thus we make this market accessible to everyone, everyone can become a seller and sell a piece of art with full legitimacy thanks to our appreciation service. This is the guarantee of selling at the right price in relation to the market and thus getting more sales conversion opportunities!

eBay reached an important milestone at the end of July 2020 with the launch of payment services on its platform, following the expiration of its operating agreement with PayPal. Now eBay is able to expand its payment services across all of its sites

eBay was created in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, a French-Iranian businessman. eBay’s culture remains different from its competitors: second-hand sales, a market model that caters to smaller merchants, and an insistence on environmental values. How do you sum up eBay’s corporate culture into three core values?

bad. eBay stands for three core values: economic opportunity for all, support for non-competitive sellers, and recognition of the role and responsibilities that have to be played in society.

First, we have one goal at eBay, which is to connect businesses of all sizes with opportunities on a global scale. This means that from the first moment the seller opens his virtual store, we support him at every stage of his development. No matter where it is located, in the heart of Paris or in a small village in the countryside, whether professional or private, every seller can thrive everywhere in France and internationally. eBay helps develop the economy in areas far from urban centers. Today, eBay supports more than 52,000 jobs in France.

Unlike other marketplaces, eBay does not sell anything on its own account, so we do not compete with sellers registered on our platform. On the contrary, eBay wages are paid through sales. So we are interested in encouraging, supporting and satisfying sellers. Finally, our market activity is based on strong ethical values.

eBay’s competitive advantage is based on innovative payment methods. Making transactions easier by switching to default is the reason eBay was created. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, cryptocurrencies and data revolutionized the world of transactions, by making it possible to circumvent national currencies and allowing the anticipation (even creation of) demand for goods and services from individuals and groups of individuals. How does eBay continue to innovate to further reduce transaction costs?

bad. : Since its inception, eBay has always had an international business. This is a topic for us: if one of our US sellers sells to a Japanese buyer, the currencies, payment methods and banks are different and therefore the transaction can be complicated. More so when the buyer is not satisfied and would like to return and refund. So the issue of payment has always been a major topic for eBay, which has prompted us to constantly adapt to changes in payment methods.

eBay reached an important milestone at the end of July 2020 with the launch of payment services on its platform, following the expiration of its operating agreement with PayPal. Now, eBay is able to expand its payment services across all of its sites, giving buyers more options and flexibility in payment methods and making it easier for sellers to do business. eBay continues to roll out the program gradually, and expects the majority of sellers to adopt it by 2021 and to complete the transition this year in 2022.

This offers many advantages, including a greater range of payment options: In addition to the already available bank cards and PayPal, we will offer Apple Pay as a payment option in Iphone And IPAD. Google Pay will also be available on the eBay website and the eBay Android app. Likewise, eBay payment services allow more liquidity in exchanges during and after transactions, by including VAT, facilitating international exchanges between countries that do not use the same currencies or means of payment.

The main obstacle to the growth of online commerce is the lack of trust between buyers and sellers. The lack of product homogeneity creates a familiar demand for product quality assurance, which can be resolved by standardizing goods and services or creating links between sellers and buyers. How does eBay create the trust needed to grow its market?

bad. We understand that trust can be crucial between buyers and sellers, especially with 1.6 billion listings available online. That’s why, since 1995, eBay has been committed to building this trust, first by being the first to establish a rating system for star sellers – addressed today on all other e-commerce sites and apps – allowing “harmful” sellers to be identified instantly.

We also supervise all sales and purchases, for example: requesting various authentication services, cooperating with the authorities in the fight against counterfeiting and trafficking in cultural goods. Our eBay and eBay direct appraisal programs also create an environment of trust and mutually enable the safe buying and selling of arts and collectibles.

Millions of sellers and buyers trade their merchandise on eBay every day, and they trust us, so we are committed to providing them with a safe and always operating online marketplace. Because as we said before, we are not in competition with our sellers, we win when they do, we do everything we can to ensure maximum security in their transactions.

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