A patent application filed by eBay back in Novemeber 2008 and revealed just recently throws light on a new feature that will enable a group of users to share an expense while making a purchase. Conventionally, a single user has to make the payment for goods online and online tools only help the user in determining the share of each member in a group.
However, with the new technology, a payment may be divided among a group of users and the share pulled from each of the group members to make the group payment.
The patent application reads,
” a method for facilitating sharing of expenses over a network includes communicating with at least one member of a user group via at least one client device over the network and a merchant via a merchant device over the network. The method includes receiving a group transaction request, dividing a payment for the group transaction request into a plurality of portions according to a number of members in the user group, separately debiting the portions of the payment from one or more accounts related to each member of the user group, and providing payment to the merchant via the merchant device based on information passed with the group transaction request. “
It is not entirely clear if this is a feature being envisioned for eBay or Paypal since such a feature will be relevant on both the services.[via USPTO]