How to play safe on Google trader
By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya
Google has been spreading its wings across Africa with launch of new applications targeted at the masses. We talked to Google’s Kenya manager, Joe Mucheru on the firm’s new products in Kenya:
SI: Is Google trader gaining popularity among Kenyans?
JM: Although we do not break down numbers per country basis, all we can tell is that Google trader is growing in Kenya.
SI: What is the most prominent activity in Google trader?
JM: Computers and housing is what people want to sell online while mobile phones, computers, electronics are what buyers are searching to buy online
SI: Which country in Africa is most active when it comes to online shopping?
JM: As far as Google Trader is concerned, Ghana has so far been the most active in online shopping.
SI: My hypothesis is: Online shopping is yet to gain popularity in Kenya because of fraud fear...what is your comment?
JM: There could be many reasons why this is the case including lack of access to credit cards/ online payment mechanisms.
SI: What should consumers need to know when doing shopping online?
Buyers should be wary of:
●Extremely low prices for expensive or popular items.
● Promises of earning quick money with little effort.
● Sellers wanting payments before delivering the item you have purchased.
●Anyone asking you to wire money directly into their account, or who claims to only take Western Union or Money Gram or similar forms of payment.
●Someone, who provides a different address or contact details than what is stated on his or her details page.
●Anyone claiming that Google Trader will guarantee a transaction, certify either buyer or seller, or will handle or provide protection for a payment. Any such claim is fraudulent as Google Trader is not involved in any transactions.
When you meet:
● Meet in a safe, public place.
● Inspect the item before you complete the transaction to make sure it is exactly what has been described and it is what you wanted.
If you’re the seller, be wary if:
●The buyer wants to pay with a cashier’s check.
●The buyer wants to pay only part of the price up front and the rest later.
●The buyer hides his or her contact details or phone number.
SI: How is the project of building websites for local businesses doing?
JM: Getting Kenya Businesses Online (GKBO), has already helped bring thousands of small and medium size enterprises online since the launch of the initiative on the 12th September 2012.
Through GKBO, businesses have the opportunity to create their own website and develop an online presence, for free. The GKBO initiative is already transforming the Kenyan SME landscape, a sector expected to become a key driver for growth according to Vision 2030, by making it quick, easy and free for businesses to register an online presence, at a time when more and more Kenyans are accessing the internet every year.
Google is committed to Africa and we continue to develop and release products that are locally relevant and useful for Africans. Access, data, and devices are too expensive. African users will benefit from an open and more competitive access market with lower prices. We are also focusing on mobile technology and SMS to deliver information, products and the internet affordably to the majority of people in the continent.
SI: What key benefits are there for a business that has a website?
JM: Small businesses that invest in internet technologies are growing much faster than those that don't. Case studies show that SMEs that went online using our GxBO programme are reporting strong growth in business opportunities and revenue.
SI: Tell me more about the Gmail SMS service you launched and how it is changing way of accessing mails.
JM: Gmail SMS is a new feature in Gmail, that lets users send and receive emails as SMS messages using any mobile phone (be it feature phone or smartphone), not requiring any data connection (Wifi, 3G)! The reality is that there are still many Kenyans who do not have access to the Internet and thus, cannot access their mail all the time as they would like. Gmail sms offers them this ability to receive their mail as if they had a smartphone or data connection.
According to CCK, the number of mobile subscribers in the country is at 29.2 million. Out of this, there are 6.49 million mobile data/Internet subscriptions on GPRS/EDGE and 3G. This means that with this service we are increasing access to over 22 million subscribers who do not have access to mobile internet subscription. Receiving SMS is free of charge. Standard rate charge applies to each SMS sent from the mobile phone, be it a reply, compose or any command.
SI: With mobile phones gaining popularity, how is Google taking advantage of the wave?
JM: More people use Trader on mobile than web in Kenya!!