eBay Launches Mandatory Card Authentication Service for Pokemon and Other TCGs

eBay has announced a mandatory new authentication service for all ungraded trading cards sold on its platform. The service launches today in the United States.

When a buyer purchases a single ungraded card for over $750, the seller will be required to ship it to eBay’s authentication partners. This includes known grading companies like CGC. These third-party companies will check if the card is authentic and ensure it matches the condition in the listing. (They are not grading the card.)

Once the card is authenticated, they will put it in a special packaging along with a tamper-proof sticker and a QR code that links to its authentication history. The card will then be shipped to the buyer in discreet packaging and require a signature upon delivery. According to CGC, cards will arrive to buyers 7 to 10 days after the purchase is made.

If the card’s condition or any other aspect of the card does not match the listing, the buyer will be refunded and the card will be returned to the seller. If the buyer ultimately returns the card, the card will be shipped back to the authenticators so they can verify it’s the same item that was sold. It will then be shipped back to the seller.

It seems these measures are to stop fraud and ensure confidence in purchases on eBay. The program works to protect both the buyer and the seller. It helps new sellers who want to sell authentic cards with little feedback, while squashing scammers who open new accounts to quickly sell fake cards. Because there’s a middleman involved, it also protects the buyer from receiving rocks and the seller from dealing with claims that they sent rocks.

eBay has also announced they plan to do this for cards worth over $250 by mid-2022.

Currently eBay says it will cover the costs of the authentication process “for a limited time.” It’s unclear who will pay for the service in the future or what fees may be involved. It’s also unclear if eBay’s partners will be able to keep up with the demand. Time will tell!

It’s reasonable to assume most people who purchase Pokemon cards for over $750 know how to detect red flags in a listing. This service seems more useful to the sports world, where there’s many more cards selling at that price point. However, if eBay provides the service for cheaper cards in the future (such as for a small fee), it could become much more useful to Pokemon buyers. Right now it seems they’re testing the waters but will eventually ramp the service up.

eBay also provided statistics about TCG growth on its platform, once again showing how the pandemic has increased overall interest in hobbies:

  • eBay’s Trading Cards category is growing significantly faster than the total marketplace.
  • Trading Cards in the first half of 2021 hit $2 billion in transactions – equal to ALL of 2020.
  • To date, close to 4 million cards purchased on and off eBay have been added to customer Collections.
  • In addition, close to a quarter million buyers have used the Price Guide tool in search to visualize trends for their favorite trading cards.
  • In 2020, a sports trading card was purchased every second.
  • Top Trading Cards GMV Growth by Categories (H1 2021):
    • Tennis – 1797%
    • Soccer – 852%
    • Pokemon – 536%
    • Marvel – 437%
    • Golf – 436%