Gross merchandise volume

$ 5,422

$ 9,319

$ 14,868

$ 23,779

$ 34,168

Sources: BBC (2005), SEC (2005)

• legal uncertainty regarding liability for the listings and other content provided by users, including uncertainty as a result of less Internet-friendly legal systems, unique local laws, and lack of clear precedent or applicable law;

• difficulties in integrating with local payment providers, including banks, credit and debit card associations, and electronic fund transfer systems;

• differing levels of retail distribution, shipping, and communications infrastructures;

• different employee/employer relationships and the existence of workers' councils and labour unions;

• difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;

• longer payment cycles, different accounting practices, and greater problems in collecting accounts receivable;

• potentially adverse tax consequences, including local taxation of fees or of transactions on web sites;

• higher telecommunications and Internet service provider costs;

• strong local competitors;

• different and more stringent consumer protection, data protection and other laws;

• cultural ambivalence towards, or non-acceptance of, online trading;

• seasonal reductions in business activity;

• expenses associated with localising products, including offering customers the ability to transact business in the local currency;

• laws and business practices that favour local competitors or prohibit foreign ownership of certain businesses;

• profit repatriation restrictions, foreign currency exchange restrictions, and exchange rate fluctuations;

• volatility in a specific country's or region's political or economic conditions; and

• differing intellectual property laws and taxation laws.

Results eBay's community of confirmed registered users has grown from around two million at the end of 1998 to more than 94 million at the end of 2003 and to more than 135 million at December 31, 2004. It is also useful to identify active users who contribute revenue to the business as a buyer or seller. eBay had 56 million active users at the end of 2004 who they define as any user who has bid, bought, or listed an item during a prior 12-month period.

Financial results are presented in the tables on p. 35 and above.

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