An increase in criminal incidents involving online platforms has pushed online classifieds service Gumtree to jack up its security mechanisms.
Gumtree said it plans to launch a payment and shipping service that removes the need for buyers and sellers using the platform to meet in person. It will be launched sometime next year.
“We have integrated fraud detection software, anti-spam tools, a reporting system and identity verification to improve safety. Adding the shipping service will propel us forward to become a transactional marketplace for pre-owned goods,” said Zandré Jansen van Vuuren, head of product at Gumtree South Africa.
The Impresa Capital subsidiary’s decision coincides with an uptick in criminal syndicates that use online platforms to rob their victims. Marketplace-type platforms such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace have become hunting grounds for criminals looking to lure unsuspecting victims into going to places where they are vulnerable, where they are then robbed.
The problem, it seems, has broader reach than online marketplace apps. For example, over the weekend, Reuters reported that there had been increase in syndicates using dating apps to bait their victims.
Last month, TechCentral reported on the rise of banking app kidnappings, where victims are held hostage and coerced into transferring money from their apps into accounts or digital wallets controlled by the criminals.
According to Jansen van Vuuren, Gumtree’s shipping functionality will have the buyer pay for the item they are interested in as well as the associated delivery cost, which includes insurance, with the money kept in escrow until after delivery has been confirmed and a dispute window has passed.
Buyers are eligible for refunds if their items do not arrive, or arrive damaged or not as advertised. Items can be delivered to a user’s home or work address, or one of Gumtree’s pickup points.
The benefit for sellers, said Jansen van Vuuren, is that their catchment area will no longer be bound by proximity as they will be able to reach buyers all over the country. To send packages, sellers will have to drop them off at Gumtree’s paperless drop-off points. “This digital drop-off system will provide the seller with a unique Pin code. Not only does this contribute towards sustainability, but it also safeguards the personal information of both parties,” she said.
The company said it has partnered with a shipping company for fulfilment but did not give details.
The additional security features may give Gumtree an edge over competitors like Facebook Marketplace as safety concerns become more top of mind for users. “Our mission is to become the most trusted marketplace in South Africa,” said Jansen van Vuuren. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media