Trade Me auctions get mobile

Online auction participants can now get cellphone messages telling them they've been out bid and letting them place new bids.

Online auction participants can now get cellphone messages telling them they’ve been out bid and letting them place new bids.

Wellington online auctioneer Trade Me has launched Trade Me To-Go, a service which uses mobile phone-based text messaging.

“You can be walking down Queen Street in Auckland and be outbid by someone sitting in a café in Christchurch,” says Trade Me managing director Sam Morgan.

“We’re extending the immediacy of auctions into the wireless space. There is fantastic potential for accelerating our growth curve as it is truly interactive and has mass-market appeal.”

It was mass-market appeal that prompted the decision to use text-base messaging rather than WAP (wireless application protocol) technology for the service, says Morgan.

We do have people already registered with email messages that are forwarded to their mobile phone. This allows them to enter their phone number rather than having to set up an email address that gets forwarded to their mobile.

“There are 600,000 to 700,000 phones out there with text-messaging capability today. Everyone on the Vodafone network can do it and those who use Telecom’s digital network have that capability.

“We wanted to allow this existing population of users to use our service without having to buy a WAP phone.”

“WAP is pretty easy. We could release a WAP site very quickly and have done some prototypes but we don’t see the value of releasing technology when there isn’t a big user base.”

Trade Me To-Go is also being integrated into mobile Internet portal E-Zebra, a site aimed at ‘Gen Y’ consumers, those being 10 to 20 year olds.

The service was developed by Wellington-based e-commerce developer eCentric which also owns Trade Me. With the two-way text messaging service, bidders receive notification that they’ve been out bid, and what the next bid is. Users can then place a new bid. It costs 20 cents to receive a message and another 20 cents to send a new bid.

Morgan says the Trade Me To-Go which went live last Tuesday had 100 pre-registrations. Trade Me has recorded 20,000 registered and active traders in the last 18 months.

Trade Me To-Go is available at the Trade Me Web site -

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