OLX.com, Tonaton.com and Fraud In Ghana

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ENTERPRISE54 – A couple of days ago, I saw this tweet on my timeline.

Now for the benefit of those who might not have heard of Tonaton and OLX , these are e-commerce websites in Ghana. They are used by businesses and individuals to sell items and services to the general public. These kinds of websites are becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, from the tweet above , it seems some unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of this and defrauding users.

In their defence, these websites warn users as to how to go about transactions safely. Tonaton provides some information to it’s users as shown below.

http://tonaton.com/en/help/staysafe

OLX also does something similar.

Safety tip section on OLX.com.

Giving the current situation however, some may argue that providing tips is not enough. These websites have to do more. On the other hand, should these websites really be concerned about the offline activities of it’s users? Would you for instance hold a dating website responsible for the activities of rapist/serial killers who use it?

Personally, I think the e-commerce websites must do more. My reason is, we (Ghana) have a host of issues when it comes to e-commerce. These range from a relatively low level of internet penetration to general user mistrust. If the industry is to grow and blossom for our mutual benefit, the existing players have to actively play a part in solving problems. Let us now move from discussing problems to possible solutions.

* Verified Badges For Businesses.

This is not a totally new concept and you don’t have to look far to see it in action. Twitter provides verified badges which enables users to easily differentiate between real celebrity accounts and parody accounts. The e-commerce websites can do same to businesses that have been vetted before hand and meet a particular criteria. Heck, they could even charge a small fee per month/year for this. The intended idea is to give users a sense of security when using the websites. A verified badge will mean a business you can trace.

* Secure drop off and pick up locations.

Aside businesses, there are also individuals who use these e-commerce websites to sell items. People who want these items usually call these individuals, negotiate a suitable price and finish the transaction face-to-face. In meeting face-to-face, users may be exposed to some risks. Having a secure location, where people selling can drop off items so people buying can pick them up upon payment might help resolve this situation.

In conclusion, I am well aware of the fact that the proposed solutions are not silver bullets. Even if they are implemented, investments will have to be made in terms of personnel,processes and finances. Recently selected MIT Fellow and leading Ghanaian web developer Raindolf Owusu shared this story on Facebook

1and the following comments ensued…2CAP

2CAP 111213141516OLX Nigeria has been having similar issues and have launched a massive campaign to educate users on how to avoid falling victim to fraudulent accounts. How do you think this problem can be laid to rest?

happywheels

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