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eBay = The Fed

By - January 16, 2004

OK, that’s a stretch. But via Mediapost we learn that Washington Mutual, a major bank, is using an eBay auction to set interest rates for its CDs. This is a stunt, certainly, but an interesting one. I’ve always been fascinated by the use of eBay as a “meta” pricing mechanism for markets outside of individual items. For example, Dale Dougherty over at O’Reilly recently turned me onto the idea of using eBay to create markets that might predict the half-life/value of new gizmos by comparing what past iterations sell for in aggregate on eBay.

From the story:

In a promotion beginning today, the bank is using eBay to auction interest rates for its certificate of deposit accounts. But instead of posting a low rate and letting consumers bid them higher, Washington Mutual will offer the CDs at a relatively high interest rate, which eBay members will bid down. …. Aside from being a radical form of banking, the promotion is the latest in a series of innovative marketing deals to come out of eBay’s new Strategic Partnerships Unit, which also developed such surprising stunts as Seven-Up’s “Liquid Loot” and Hasbro’s “Jedi Knights” promotions.

More on eBay’s SPU here

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3 thoughts on “eBay = The Fed

  1. What makes you think this is “a stunt”? That feeling you have may just be the paradigm shifting out from under you.

    I know people thought that it was goofy when people started selling cars on eBay. Motors is now eBay’s biggest and fastest-growing business — more than $6 billion worth of cars and auto parts were sold on eBay in 2003.

  2. Welcome Jeffrey, pleased you’re reading!
    I didn not mean a stunt in the sense that building on platforms like eBay is a stunt (I think platforms like eBay’s are insanely important to the future of the web), but more in the sense of it as a marketing stunt on WashMu’s part…(readers…Jeffrey is an evangelist over at eBay’s dev program….see http://mcmanus.typepad.com/grind/

  3. Scott says:

    This is a very interesting idea. Do you have any links to these interest rate auctions?