IS480 Team wiki: 2016T1 Stark Project Overview
Team Stark is building a comprehensive and interactive trading application for online marketplaces that include: C2C (Consumer to Consumer), B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business). This application enables users and businesses to carry out online transactions within the electronic commerce community securely and dynamically. The application will provide a plethora of payment avenues such as debit/credit and bank transfer functionalities along with enabling users to create real time transactions coupled with chat function capabilities, to facilitate the buying or selling process of the users. Furthermore, the application is equipped with a regulatory and mediatory system that serves to resolve online disputes among users. This system seeks to mitigate online frauds to ensure that the rightful party is not cheated, scammed or has his/her time wasted.
Lastly, the application allows users to initiate and carry out transactions across various electronic commerce platforms such as forums, online shops, blogs, etc. The records related to the transactions carried out are registered under the system to provide a platform independent rating that is mediated based on the user’s transaction history. This online identity/rating will be easily transferrable across multiple electronic commerce platforms effectively providing the user with an online trading identity. Ultimately, the application aims to foster a secure, reliable and versatile trading environment for the online commerce community.
David is a university student who is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore. He has a passion for buying and selling computer hardware components such as RAMs, Graphic Cards, etc. Furthermore, he carries out most of his deals and transactions on various online, consumer to consumer (C2C) platforms that include: hardwarezone, VRZone and Carousell. David has been avidly trading online for about 5 years and has gained much experience from buying and selling with the online community. He has faced buyers of various types and had to put up with plenty of issues that rose during, before and after transacting. Regardless, the online community remains a favourable option for many traders due to the plethora of potential consumers that it provides. Much of David’s transactions and deals have been completed with buyers that he had met on VRZone and as such he has built a significant reputation on that particular forum. Potential buyers who seek David out on VRZone are able to recognize his credentials as a trustworthy buyer via the rating system in VRZone. However, David faces the need to re-establish his credentials as a seller on every forum or platform that he uses. This is particularly time consuming and inefficient as David who could be a 5-star seller on VRZone can be a mere 1-star seller on another forum that he newly signs up at. Moreover, the lack of transferrable ratings results in David focusing more of his efforts on one or two platform that he has had established his credentials at.
The crust of buying and selling online with other consumers lies in the interaction itself. David has had both positive and negative experiences dealing with buyers with varying characteristics. Despite garnering mostly positive experiences, the negative ones do cause considerable inconvenience and at times backlash due to conflicts. As a seller, David has faced buyers who promised to meet up at a mutually accepted location and time, but end up not turning up. This causes David much inconvenience having made an unnecessary trip. Furthermore, David has also come across buyers who do not review or rate him based on the transaction but due to personal reasons. This has resulted in David’s rating and credibility being affected by the unwarranted actions of these buyers. As a buyer, David faced a different set of problems. On top of not turning up and giving biased reviews, David has had his money scammed due to receiving a faulty product or not receiving the product at all. Certain platforms such as forums do not provide payment avenues and as such, David at times makes deposits or even full payments to certain sellers via bank transfer. Malicious sellers have taken advantage of the fact that they are able to receive the money beforehand, and tend to send faulty products, products that do not match the specifications listed or worst of all do not send the product at all. In such situations, David has no guarantee of receiving his money back and is only able to make a police report. Furthermore, despite the menial efforts by the platforms to eradicate such malicious users and their accounts, it is inevitable that these negative minded users will once again ply their trade in consumer to consumer platforms with a different account.
Finally, the fact that not all consumer to consumer platforms devote resources to addressing these issues further encourages malicious users and makes buying and selling online as a matter of risk for users such as David.
Scenario 1: Successful transaction without dispute (Easy)
David is a university student who has been buying and selling computer hardware components online for many years. Recently, he came across the platform MaiMai, which enables users to create secure and reliable transactions coupled with payment capabilities, especially on platforms that do not provide such avenues. As such, David signs up for a MaiMai account in order to facilitate his buying and selling process.
In order to explore and understand the features of MaiMai, David returns to his commonly used platform, VRZone, to browse through his listings and to choose a particular item that he wishes to transact via MaiMai. He decides to go with his macbook air 2015 edition. David copies the forum link of his macbook and using that link, he generates a listing on the MaiMai application that contains a screenshot of the initial forum posting. David proceeds to add further details to the listing such as the hard-drive capacity, RAM, number of years used and so on. Finally, David has a MaiMai listing that contains a “Mai2” link, which enables potential buyers to communicate with David via MaiMai. David copies the “Mai2” version of the link and pastes it on several of the platforms that he has listings on which include: VRZone, HardwareZone and Carousell, stating that buyers are to direct to that link in order to negotiate about the macbook.
Tim is a working adult who has been searching for a 2nd hand macbook to purchase for his personal use. He comes across David’s post on HardwareZone and sees a special link that directs him to the MaiMai application. He is then prompted to sign up for a MaiMai account to be able to securely transact with David. Tim proceeds to sign up and then is subsequently directed to a live chat feature that consists of him and David. Tim starts the conversation to enquire about the availability and quality of the macbook.
The following day, David revisits MaiMai and notices that a potential buyer has clicked on his “Mai2” link and had initiated a transaction. David then opens up the transaction and proceeds to negotiate the details of the product and the financial requirements. At this point in time, Tim is online on MaiMai as well. Both David and Time negotiate over the price, until they decide on a price of $1800 SGD. After which, David initiates the contract option within the application. He then adds additional details such as the meeting place, time, requirement of a deposit or full payment, etc, to the contract option. David states that the meeting point will be at Jurong Point Shopping centre, near Old Chang Kee, at 3.30pm on Saturday 18th June 2016. Additionally, David requests Tim to make a full payment via MaiMai’s payment avenues.
Tim goes through the contract details and makes an offer of $1800 SGD along with accepting the contract terms of David. David then confirms the offer and waits for Tim to make the payment. Tim obliges and uses MaiMai’s payment gateway to make a full payment. Upon the conformation of payment made to MaiMai, David and Tim proceed to meet up to complete the transaction and exchanged their contact numbers. As specified in the transaction contract, David and Time meet up to carry out the exchange. Tim makes a full inspection of the laptop to ensure that all the specifications match and that there were no external damages. Upon confirming that the laptop meets the specified requirements, both David and Tim complete the deal on their respective accounts on MaiMai. Both are then prompted to rate each other based on the efficiency of transaction and the nature of the service. Both David and Time provide reasonable reviews for each other on the application.
Tim, as the buyer, is provided 7 days of grace period to ensure that product meets the requirements stated by the seller, David. If there any issues within this period of time, Tim is able to raise a conflict within the MaiMai application. Until the grace period is complete, the payment value is held by MaiMai. After 7 days, David will receive the payment made by Tim for the macbook. The transaction has been completed in a secure and efficient manner for both the buyer, Tim, and the seller, David.
Scenario 2: Transaction with conflict (Hard)
David has had several positive experiences transacting with fellow buyers and sellers via MaiMai, sensing a reasonable reduction in malicious users approaching him. David has been building a reputation on MaiMai ever since. David has created MaiMai version of listings for all the items that he has posted for sale on the various other platforms that include: VRZone, HardwareZone and Carousell.
John who is a secondary school student views David’s listing for a EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 graphic card on carousell. He messages David via the Carousell chat option. David then requests John to negotiate the details through the MaiMai link provided in the Carousell listing. John directs to the link and is then prompted to sign up for a MaiMai account to be able to securely transact with David. John proceeds to sign up and negotiates with David via the MaiMai chat feature.
David and John negotiate over the price of the graphic card to be $200 SGD. After which, David initiates the contract option within the application. He then adds additional details such as the meeting place, time, requirement of a deposit or full payment, etc, to the contract option. David states that the meeting point will be at Jurong Point Shopping centre, near Old Chang Kee, at 3.30pm on Saturday 18th June 2016. Additionally, David requests Tim to make a deposit payment of 10% of the negotiated price and the remaining amount to be paid in cash upon meeting at the specified date and time.
John goes through the contract details and makes an offer of $200 SGD along with accepting the contract terms of David. David then confirms the offer and waits for John to make the payment. John obliges and uses MaiMai’s payment gateway to make a deposit payment of $20 SGD. Upon the conformation of payment made to MaiMai, David and Tim plan to meet up to complete the transaction and exchanged their contact numbers. As specified in the transaction contract, David turns up at the specified place and time. However, John does not turn up even after an excruciating wait of 1 hour. David gets extremely furious and attempts to contact John but to no avail.
Disappointed, David returns home and initiates a conflict on the transaction with John. David explains the reason for the conflict as John not having turned up at the confirmed time and place. Additionally, he uploads supporting evidence such as the picture of the product that has yet to be sold to prove that John had not turned up. MaiMai administrators were notified of the conflict initiated by David and proceed to send John an email notification to inform him of the conflict raised by David and to submit supporting evidence within 48 hours upon having received the email to support his stand.
Disgruntled, John had no other option and no proof to show that he had made the trip to meet David in order to complete the deal. As such, he decides not to submit any supporting evidence. 48 hours later, a MaiMai administrator collates the uploaded supporting documents. The admin then proceeds to check the contract agreement details specified in the transaction. The admin realises that David indeed had messaged John via the MaiMai application as well at the specified date and time, but John had not responded at all. In reference to the conflict management guidelines stated in the terms and conditions of MaiMai usage, the admin makes the verdict on the conversation between John and David that John indeed is guilty of not turning up and the deposit payment will be made to David in the form of a fine, over the application. The admin then further proceeds to send an email to both sides stating the final verdict just in-case either party has missed out on the verdict statement posted on the initial transaction conversation.
The admin closes the specific transaction between John and David. The following day, David receives the cash deposit of $20.
In order to mitigate online frauds and to improve the process of carrying out transactions, John would like an application dedicated to the management and processing of transactions. This can be achieved via three unique features. Firstly, the application should enable a platform independent rating system that acts as a catalyst to forming a universal electronic commerce identity across the three online marketplaces. Secondly, a regulatory and mediatory system that keeps track of the progress of transactions and ensure that most online disputes are solved with the rightful party not having to lose out. Lastly, to cater to a plethora of payment avenues and real time chat and tracking functionalities. Overall, to provide the user experience that every buyer/seller rightfully deserves.
Our team aims on reaching out to buyers and sellers who are currently plying their trade in various platforms such as forums and other C2C marketplaces, potentially leading up to the likes of businesses. We strive to mitigate the modern day issues and problems that go unheard when dealing with undesirable buyers while at the same time improving and optimizing the reliability and security of online transactions. Apart from being able to enhance the process, we strive to provide value added capabilities to the user such as chat functionalities and a universal electronic commerce identity. Such an identity provides users with an incentive to uphold moral standards while being provided with an opportunity to build their own brand, leading to the reduction of online scams or frauds.