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Blockchain-based marketplace ventures into classifieds

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BlacqMarket CEO Tim Hogins.
BlacqMarket CEO Tim Hogins.

Blockchain-based online marketplace BlacqMarket has evolved its business model to introduce a classifieds service that offers buyers and sellers protection against online scams.

Introduced in April, BlacqMarket initially allowed SMMEs and established businesses to list their products and services online, including professional service providers such as plumbers, electricians, handymen, etc – helping to increase their access to earning opportunities, especially during the lockdown.

It is now expanding to target any person wishing to sell any item online, after integrating blockchain-based escrow technology called BlacqPaye, to protect the buyer and seller against online scams commonly found in classified advertising and e-commerce platforms, it notes.

Cyber fraud is witnessing an unprecedented rise across local marketplaces, with business owners telling ITWeb they have been forced to beef up security on their platforms since the onset of the pandemic.

The crime trend has contributed to a lack of trust in classified advertising among many South Africans.

BlacqMarket CEO Tim Hogins says the portal aims to be the platform of choice for entrepreneurs in the formal and informal economy, and for anyone selling something from a garage sale.

“What we offer is protection for both the buyer and seller, coupled with peace of mind. The BlacqMarket message is: if you want to buy any product, or specific car, or pay a deposit on an apartment that is advertised on our platform even before you see it, you can do it with our BlacqPaye system which offers 100% protection. The advertiser or the seller will be notified of a paid deposit, but cannot access the money until the customer is happy, or they have seen what they have purchased,” notes Hogins.

BlacqMarket bills itself as Africa’s first online marketplace built on a blockchain platform, to ensure all transactions are safe and secure.

While currently only in SA, the broader vision is to make the marketplace available throughout the continent. Hogins says he is engaging potential partners across Africa who will be instrumental in the e-commerce platform’s African invasion plans.

SA's underperforming economic climate has seen many consumers purchasing second-hand goods versus new, resulting in online marketplaces for classified adverts becoming a breeding ground for scammers.

BlacqMarket says it solves the problem of cyber crime through the escrow facility managed and controlled by blockchain technology, meaning zero human intervention, unlike the conventional escrow systems.

It encourages all its advertisers and sellers to use the BlacqPaye payment and says it offers a 100% money-back guarantee to anyone who gets scammed while using the payment platform.

Local marketplaces OLX and Gumtree have introduced similar escrow payment services; however, they are not blockchain-based.

How the BlacqPaye payment system works:

  • A seller advertises a product or service on BlacqMarket.
  • A buyer purchases the product and the money stays in an escrow account where the seller can see it but has no access to the money. The advertiser cannot access the money until the buyer receives his goods, or until the service has been rendered.
  • A customer can always deposit the money as instructed, but the seller cannot cash the money until the customer is happy with the product, or has seen the product.

“The protection is offered to the seller too – if the service and / or product meets the agreed-upon requirements, the buyer cannot cancel the transaction, nor access the funds in the escrow account,” adds Hogins.

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