Collectors wanting a little more peace of mind when considering the purchase of a higher cost, ungraded trading card are getting a little free help from eBay and one of the hobby’s authentication firms.
On Tuesday, eBay announced the launch of its Authenticity Guarantee service for trading cards. Single ungraded cards that sell for more than $750 either via auction or straight purchase will have to be sent in to be authenticated before the card is delivered to the buyer. eBay said that by midyear it hopes to include graded, autograph and patch cards that sell for more than $250.
The authentication step is going to be required for sellers.
At least for now, the service will be free, although buyers will have to wait several more days to get the card they purchased. “As we continue to invest in the platform and scale the service, we’ll evaluate the need for any changes,” eBay’s Director of Trading Cards Bob Means told SC Daily.
The Authenticity Guarantee is not new to eBay. The company currently has guarantees for sneakers, watches and handbags. The guarantee applies to handbags that sell for more than $500, sneakers that sell for more than $100 and watches that top $2,000 in price.
According to eBay, the sale of trading cards, which are one of the company’s top categories, has been growing at a fast rate. The company claims that card sales accounted for more than $2 billion in transactions during the first half of 2021, which was the total for all of 2020..
Creating another layer of protection for card buyers and sellers is aimed at making collectors feel more comfortable using the eBay platform. The goal for eBay is to cut down on fraud for buyers — just as important, also reduce fraud for returns. With large numbers of new or returning collectors entering the space, eBay is anxious to make them more comfortable about spending significant amounts of money.
“Our trading cards business has been growing for the past six years, but the surge over the past several years speaks to the immense cultural significance of the category,” Dawn Block, eBay’s vice president of collectibles, electronics and Home at eBay, said in a statement. “More time at home has been a boon for collecting and, as hobbies turn into investments, authentication services in categories of high value have become a priority for enthusiasts and hobbyists alike. Introducing Authenticity Guarantee for trading cards will significantly change the way our community buys and sells on the marketplace.”
Here is how the process will work for cards.
When a trading card purchase it made, the seller ships the item directly to a team of third-party authenticators — in this case, Certified Collectibles Group, parent company of sports card grader CSG. CCG will conduct a “comprehensive, multipoint physical inspection.” If the card is determined to be what the seller’s listing indicated it was, it will be sent via free expedited shipping to the buyer.
The process is expected to be quick as the card won’t be graded or encapsulated. eBay is promising that CCG/SGC will complete the process within 1-2 days of receiving the card.
Authenticators will inspect the card’s overall condition with a triplet loupe, which is a magnifying glass frequently associated with jewelers. A triplet loupe has three cemented lenses that produce sharper image quality. The authenticators will also use precision rulers. Aided by computer-driven magnification, X-ray fluorescence and variable lighting sources to measure centering and wear on the card.
“Once the inspection is complete, the item will be sent to the buyer with tracked four-day shipping,” Means stated. “Tracking information is available on the Purchase History page, where the buyer can track the shipment of their order and see exactly where it is in the authentication process. As part of the Authenticity Guarantee service, buyers will also receive an order update email once the card goes through inspection.”
Once verified as authentic, each card receives a tamper-proof sticker and a QR code sealing the protective packaging over the card. It’s shipped back in a package that’s also designed to be folded into a stand.
Collectors can scan the QR code from any mobile device to learn more about the card and its authentication process.
Sellers who offer returns are protected, as the Authenticity Guarantee ensures that the item sold is the one that is returned. The card will be shipped back to the authentication center, and after it is verified by the third party it is returned to the seller.
The Authenticity Guarantee should mean plenty of fresh business for CCG, which is the sole partner in the deal.
According to eBay, during 2020 a sports trading card was bought every second.
“As the service expands to include trading cards … eBay further solidifies the marketplace as a top, trusted destination for buying and selling high-value items,” the company said in a news release. “Authenticity Guarantee now brings an added layer of trust to these transactions, as well as unmatched access to comprehensive and accurate product information for collectors, flippers and investors.”