Facebook Inc has launched an ecommerce business on its own planet – the Facebook. And when that happens, expect a huge level of dislocation in the ecosystem. Yes, “Facebook has unveiled a new marketplace in Nigeria, a buying and selling point where people can search, buy and sell items in their local communities. According to a statement released Wednesday by the social media platform, Nigeria has become the latest African nation to join the market where South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya are already trading.”
“Sellers and merchants are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations. For high-value items (example: watches, luxury bags), consider requesting a certificate of authenticity or proof of purchase.
“If you’re not satisfied with an item’s condition or have doubts about its authenticity, you can decline to complete the purchase. If the seller offers to ship the item rather than exchanging it in person, keep in mind that you may not have the opportunity to verify the item before completing your purchase.
“If you are meeting, ensure this is in a public place. Don’t invite buyers or sellers into your home. Before going to the agreed location, tell a family member or a friend the exact location where you will meet, bring your cell phone, and consider asking another adult to come with you.
Jiji, OLX and other classified portals will experience a new dimension of competitive attacks. If people are already on Facebook and Facebook can offer them what you are offering, how do you expect them to leave Facebook for you? Every player in the marketplace must have an answer on this Facebook’s moat!
After the latest WhatsApp terms and conditions upgrade, I noted here that Facebook was planning to use WhatsApp as a clearing house for Facebook.com since WhatsApp has one thing other platforms do not have: phone numbers. Those phone numbers are verified and secured with biometrics which means once Facebook can sync WhatsApp backend to Facebook.com, its community and marketplace can allow people with WhatsApp accounts to buy, pay and checkout with minimal fraud! Sure, mess up and Facebook will give out your phone, not email address! Your phone is linked to your National Identity Number (NIN), and suddenly, there is no hiding place.
So, Facebook Nigeria Marketplace is here, and WhatsApp pay will be overlaid on it, making it possible that payments can happen at scale. This is a huge challenge ahead for ecommerce companies especially those running marketplaces. Even Jumia and Konga may not be smiling right now!
But I have laid out a strategy in Harvard Business Review: do not pursue a frontal response, go through the flank by collaborating with Facebook since it is not likely you will thrive if you want to go against it head-on.
Yet, at the end of all, customers will be better service because they will get many things free, and fraud will drop, since Facebook has your WhatsApp-linked phone and integrity will be deepened. But what I am not sure is this: if there would be other marketplaces in Nigeria except Facebook by 2024!
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