For PayPal, mobile devices aren't just new instruments of payment. They are also a way to attract new active users.

In the first quarter, eBay and PayPal added over 2.8 million new users through mobile devices, eBay CEO John Donahoe said in an April 17 conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter earnings.

At the outset, these users are more active than those that don't use mobile devices.

"We know that mobile users are more engaged than non-mobile users… multi-screen users buy twice as much as non-multi-screen," Donahoe says.

EBay is watching closely to see if these users remain engaged over time.

"As those consumers go through that ramp-up … of their first year to two years on our platforms, we'll see if they ramp up engagement more quickly," he says. "It's a positive trend one way or another."

Overall, PayPal added five million new active accounts in the first quarter, and one in four PayPal account holders made at least one mobile purchase in the past 12 months, Donahoe said.

EBay also emphasized the importance of its customer data. Data has been a strong motivator of many mobile payment initiatives — the retailers behind the Merchant Customer Exchange mobile payments venture have said they started MCX specifically to maintain control of customer data.

At eBay, "when it comes to leveraging data, few have what we have: massive amounts of closed-loop data," Donahoe said. But it's willing to share: eBay is "a partner, not a competitor," he says.

EBay's revenue rose 14% to $3.7 billion in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier. Its net income rose 19%, to $677 million.

Though Donahoe cast eBay's financial performance as "a strong start to the year," the company's stock price dropped as much as 3.7% in extended trading after its sales, at $3.75 billion, missed analyst estimates of $3.77 billion, Bloomberg News reports.

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