Digital Insight mobile-marketplace

Published on August 31st, 2012 | by Saurabh Pandey

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How an Airtel can disrupt a Craigslist!

I encountered a question sometime back on quora, about who are the next disrupters for a marketplace like craigslist. I answered that it will be not a typical internet marketplace but a mobile company.

Let’s see what would be the characteristic of a future marketplace:
1. hyperlocal (not great on desktop internet today)
2. real time (missing today)
3. ecosystem (payment making and receiving, accessibility, advertising etc.)- (missing today)
4. mega-liquidity, 24*7 (usage in India still low)
5. Plug and play

Cut to India. 900M mobile users. And in the next few years more Indians will access internet from mobile devices than from desktops. Coupled with this- people will use more real-time services in the future-and mobile platforms due to huge volumes of traffic, accessibility and easy activation, coupled with an ecosystem will be the best bet for a future marketplace.

Now, these users can have an opportunity to do several things:

1. Users can buy a MOPLA (Mobile platform) card from local chemist or grosser.
2. MOPLA helps them talk, pay someone or accept payments, use internet and open a virtual
mobile shop.
3. A housewife can plug her used items to a MOPLA. She can automatically be seen by people
nearby, get contacted via click to call and sells her used items and gets paid via, let’s
say, Airtel Money.
4. A small time magazine seller opens a mobile shop, and accepts subscription for newspaper and
magazine deliveries.
5. Wild thought- I am going to Gurgaon- I flash a posting on MOPLA under car-pool and offer the
ride at Rs. 50. Interested people in the hyperlocal area respond in real time and pay. I get
the money they get the ride.

The MOPLA becomes the default marketplace for Consumer2Consumer and Microbusiness2Consumer. This will suddenly put millions of dollars in the form of micropayments in the hands of hundreds of thousand small entrepreneurs and professionals.

Additional benefits:

1. Mobile users by way of huge volumes ensure huge liquidity
2. The easiness of opening a mobile shop and accepting payments- creates millions of home-
entrepreneurs. This further accelerates liquidity
3. No black money-everything is online and transparent.
4. Companies like Airtel will also launch escrow, so risks are minimized.

A company like AIRTEL or Reliance which has grassroot presence in India, has a wide ecosystem (wallet, accessibility, platform with video, marketplace and click to call integration etc.) and which is already being used by our rural and city population stands the best chance to disrupt the marketplaces of future. Not to forget that the network effect here would be much stronger to a stand alone internet marketplace.

There are other possibilities also like a Google Wallet. But I still put my money on an Airtel or a Reliance.


Google infact has already launched it’s website where small business can build their mobile site for free. Click here to check it

When? My take is less than 5 years. Be ready for disruption.

*header image courtesy: http://www.thehabarinetwork.com/kenya-mobile-money-growth-continues-supercedes-debit-cards-transactions

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