eBay launches a new ‘Vault’ facility for storing valuable trading cards

By Steven Melendez

June 07, 2022

eBay launches a new ‘Vault’ facility for storing valuable trading cards

Scott Keeney has been buying and selling on eBay since he was a kid. Keeney—better known by his music moniker DJ Skee—has also become a well known figure in the world of collectible trading cards, even producing a line of custom sports cards with industry powerhouse Topps.

But until recently, Keeney says, his collection was somewhat disorganized, making it hard to see at a glance what cards he owned. Travel and other professional obligations only compounded the problem, making it difficult to quickly sell a card experiencing a sudden jump in value.

But that’s changing, Keeney says, thanks to the eBay Vault, a 31,000-square-foot Delaware facility launched on Tuesday by the online marketplace company to store valuable trading cards for their owners and enable them to sell them with a few clicks of a mouse.

Any collectible cards sold on the platform that are valued at more than $750 and have been officially evaluated by a major verification service will be eligible for storage in the Vault, where they’ll be insured and kept safe from the elements.

“I’m going to keep a few at home with me that I really want to see,” Keeney says, but beyond that, “pretty much everything is in the Vault.”

Cards can be shipped directly to the Vault, where they’ll be authenticated by the card grading and verification service PSA and digitally imaged. Then, they’ll be stored in the Vault until they’re sold again—or even afterward, since eBay envisions that many cards will remain there for safekeeping even as they transition from owner to owner, eliminating risks from shipping and the need to revisit their authenticity or condition.

“The ownership can transfer from seller to buyer in just a matter of seconds,” says Dawn Block, eBay’s VP of collectibles, electronics and home. “No need to ship it anywhere.”

At the moment, there’s no additional fee for in-vault transactions—and, due to its Delaware location, no sales tax charged on transactions where items remain in the vault—though Block says there will likely be a processing fee starting next year, and the company will continue to evaluate whether to introduce any other fees as the service evolves. She estimates that, over the next few years, the Vault could come to hold more than $3 billion in value. And, she says, the company may open the Vault to other classes of collectibles and valuables beyond cards in the future.

Already, Rick Probstein, an early invitee to the vault whose business trades on eBay as probstein123, says he has more than 200 items in the vault, including cards collectively valued into the millions of dollars, such as rookie cards of Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan. He says eBay helped him transfer items to the vault by armored car.

“When you see an armored truck show up with guys with guns, you can’t get more secure than that,” he says.

The move by eBay comes as prices for collectible cards, from baseball and basketball to Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering, have soared in value in recent years, making some see them as an alternative investment akin to fine art. (Keeney is a partner in card investment fund Mint 10).

While holding cards remotely might seem less appealing than keeping them on display or otherwise available to handle and examine, Block emphasizes that owners can view high resolution images of their cards whenever they wish through eBay, and hints that there may be more ways for people to show off their collections to other users in the future.

The company has also hinted it may support fractional purchases in the future, where multiple people can essentially own a share of a valuable collectible.

All of that might make collecting cards seem more like buying and selling stock, or perhaps NFTs, than trading cards with buddies in the back of the school bus or idly perusing what’s for sale at the local flea market. But for cards worth hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars, many collectors may well prefer to keep their own and others’ hands far away, as the valuable items sit secure, authenticated, organized, and ready for a quick sale in eBay’s climate-controlled facility.

“I was basically vaulting them myself, just in the closet, and it was much less secure,” says Keeney. “I actually think it’s much more convenient being able to go to one place.”