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German antitrust regulators question PayPal’s merchant business

The news: German antitrust regulators are investigating PayPal, per Bloomberg.

  • Authorities are looking into PayPal’s user terms, which bar businesses from offering lower prices if customers choose alternative payment methods.
  • They are also concerned about how PayPal prevents sellers from offering more convenient alternative payment methods.

Why it’s worth watching: Germany is one of PayPal’s largest global markets.

  • PayPal’s user base in Germany is forecast to hit 27.8 million customers in 2023—accounting for nearly 25% of PayPal’s international core user base (which excludes the US), per Insider Intelligence forecasts.
  • PayPal has also historically been Germany’s leading digital payment provider: PayPal facilitated 63% of digital purchases in Germany in November 2021—beating out both credit and debit cards, according to ibi research.

The big takeaway: The investigation could make PayPal update its merchant agreements so sellers can more easily offer competing wallets—which could decrease PayPal’s payments dominance in Germany.

PayPal has been expanding in Europe—it recently brought its crypto payments product to Luxembourg, for example. Any changes that come in Germany may dampen the firm’s growth prospects in Europe. But the investigation into PayPal has barely begun—and may not result in significant changes to how PayPal operates.