PayPal has announced plans to eliminate its Purchase Protection coverage for customers who give money to crowdfunding projects. The new policy takes effect on June 25th, 2016, and says “payments on crowdfunding platforms” are ineligible for protection. The broad move could be a response to the well-documented frequency of fraud and failure on crowdfunding platforms — one Kickstarter study found that 9 percent of all its projects failed to deliver rewards.
PayPal may also just be hoping to clear up some of the confusion that has surrounded its support for crowdfunding platforms so far; both creators and buyers have reported stumbling over PayPal’s terms. PayPal technically treats crowdfunding and “preselling” differently, even though crowdfunding projects often essentially function as preorders. As Glenn Fleishman reported on Medium, one of Kickstarter’s largest failures led to a messy refund situation where some customers who preordered the Zano drone outside of Kickstarter received their units first, and were able to receive refunds, while people who tried to receive chargebacks through Kickstarter were rejected.
The new policy means that people who use PayPal to support crowdfunding projects won’t be able to recoup their money by disputing the charge — meaning PayPal won’t provide relief if a project fails to deliver, delivers a broken product, or is completely fraudulent. The change mostly impacts Indiegogo; Kickstarter payments were already not protected by PayPal. (Kickstarter itself also does not take any responsibility for fulfilling rewards, and does not permit people who funded successful projects to request chargebacks.) We’ve asked PayPal to explain the reason for the change, but it’s likely the company just doesn’t want to assume the risk from crowdfunding’s ongoing trust problem.
PayPal issued the following statement about the change:
In Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, United States and other countries, we have excluded payments made to crowdfunding campaigns from our buyer protection programs. This is consistent with the risks and uncertainties involved in contributing to crowdfunding campaigns, which do not guarantee a return for the investment made in these types of campaigns. We work with our crowdfunding platform partners to encourage fundraisers to communicate the risks involved in investing in their campaign to donors.
Gone are the days of pledging your support for a potato salad, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be protected even if the mayonnaise is subpar. It was a simpler time.
By The Verge and Claire Reilly