During the late 2000s, eBay and PayPal merged to form a vertically-integrated company that permits users to use a single, nearly seamless payment method to purchase goods through eBay's online auction clearinghouse. Before the merger, eBay sellers typically offered a wide range of payment methods. These included money orders, cashier's checks, direct credit card payments and even personal checks.
Once PayPal became the preferred online method of payment during the early 2000s, many sellers began to open "PayPal-only" eBay stores that cut out small-time buyers who weren't interested in signing up for an account through the service. Although this may have temporarily foreclosed an important non-electronic revenue stream for these sellers, it appears to have paid off in the long run. Some of eBay's most successful sellers now offer payment exclusively through PayPal. The strategic merger between the two companies solidified these ties and led to the creation of a wide range of PayPal-specific payment methods. These include PayPal money market accounts, credit cards and other financial products.
If you wish to make an eBay purchase, chances are good that you'll need a PayPal account. As the auction site has matured, the smaller sellers who once favored analog payment methods have largely been crowded out of the market. These "mom-and-pop" outfits have been replaced by slick, professional sellers. These high-volume operations simply can't take the time to process hundreds or thousands of non-electronic payments per week.
However, eBay doesn't prohibit sellers from using other methods of payment. In fact, many sellers continue to offer other payment methods in order to attract occasional buyers who might not use PayPal. To use eBay without signing up for PayPal, you'll need to deal exclusively with "multi-payment" sellers. To determine whether a seller accepts multiple forms of payment, examine the notes below their user name on their auction page. If the notes indicate that the seller accepts non-PayPal payments, you won't be bound by the strictures of the eBay-PayPal symbiosis. Before forwarding a non-electronic payment to a seller, e-mail them to ensure that their payment information has been recently updated.
If you plan on using eBay on a regular basis, you may wish to sign up for a PayPal account. It's relatively easy and secure to do so. In fact, PayPal maintains one of the strictest codes of privacy in the e-commerce industry. In order to use your PayPal account on eBay, you'll need to "verify" it by linking it with a valid bank account.