Voda­fone Launches Vi­tiKart

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Com­merce min­is­ter Faiyaz Koya yes­ter­day launched Fiji’s first fully fledged on­line mar­ket place.

Voda­fone’s Vi­tiKart brings a num­ber of busi­nesses on a sin­gle on­line mar­ket place that of­fers a range of prod­ucts for con­sumers.

“Ini­tia­tives such as the Vi­tiKart come at a time where the very ex­is­tence of many busi­nesses is con­di­tional to their abil­ity to break bar­ri­ers and stay rel­e­vant, and ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion,” Mr Koya said. “When busi­nesses and cus­tomers aren’t re­stricted by lo­gis­tics such as phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion and time, you have a plethora of op­por­tu­ni­ties to boost rev­enue in new ways – in ways we may not have thought.”

Mr Koya called for strate­gic al­liancwes and the need to make the most of what was avail­able.

“And that can only be achieved through form­ing strate­gic part­ner­ship.”

Move away from cash pay­ment

He said peo­ple wanted to move away from cash pay­ment to a smoother and more com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence that dig­i­tal plat­form pro­vided. Mr Koya said a re­cent busi­ness sur­vey con­ducted by the Min­istry in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Co­op­er­a­tion re­vealed that eight per cent of non-tourism busi­nesses had set up or ex­panded on­line sales in re­sponse to the pandemic.

The cart

Voda­fone’s act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ronald Prasad said it was im­per­a­tive that busi­nesses look to new ways of en­gag­ing with cus­tomers for sur­vival.

He said on­line e-com­merce plat­forms recorded a 20 per cent debt growth in rev­enue in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2020.

“The plat­form pro­vides an end to end pur­chase to de­liv­ery ser­vice,” Mr Prasad said.

It al­lows cus­tomers around the coun­try to down­load the Vi­tiKart app, go on­line, choose from a range of prod­ucts and pay the same time. Cus­tomers can pay via M-PAiSA, Visa and MasterCard, and have the item de­liv­ered to their door.

The first few mer­chants to sign up in­cluded Voda­fone, Value­fone, Courts and Cy­bercity, Tap­poos, Prouds and Jack’s Re­tail.

Mr Prasad said Vi­tiKart drew par­al­lels with eBay, AliEx­press and Ama­zon al­beit on a small scale with in­de­pen­dent mer­chants us­ing a com­mon dig­i­tal plat­form to of­fer prod­ucts di­rectly to con­sumers. Voda­fone’s M-PAiSA pay­ment plat­form was a con­ve­nient zero fee al­ter­na­tive for lo­cal pur­chases, for cus­tomers in the ru­ral, re­mote ar­eas, he said.

“For in­stance, a per­son in Ka­davu will log onto the Vi­tiKart app, and be able to buy brand new TV, fridge or any other white good from Courts, pay for it us­ing M-PAiSA and have this de­liv­ered to Ka­davu,” Mr Prasad said.

“Our long term goal is to in­clude the mi­cro en­trepreneur­s who are sell­ing ‘Fi­jian Made’ prod­ucts and wish to ac­cess an on­line plat­form to reach cus­tomers.”

Vi­tiKart can also be ac­cessed by Fi­jians abroad, Mr Prasad said.

“This opens up a whole new world of op­por­tu­ni­ties for mi­cro-en­trepreneur­s with­out large cap­i­tal out­lays and re­duced op­er­at­ing costs,” he said.

El­i­gi­bil­ity

The plat­form al­lows only pre-ap­proved sell­ers to trade as a means of main­tain­ing cred­i­bil­ity and con­sumer trust in the plat­form, Mr Prasad said.

“Cus­tomers out­side of Fiji could use the ser­vice to pur­chase items for their fam­i­lies in Fiji and have this de­liv­ered to their homes,” he said.

Mr Prasad said stu­dents have a hands on ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the eCom­merce plat­form to un­der­stand the way big brands op­er­ate their on­line busi­ness.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence they gain would be im­mensely help­ful in their ca­reers,” he said.

Some­thing pos­i­tive

“At a time, when many are los­ing their jobs, this is some­thing pos­i­tive to of­fer to the job mar­ket and keep­ing in line with the spirit of en­trepreneur­ship.”

Pa­cific Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Pro­gramme man­ager Bram Peters called for the ex­pan­sion of Vi­tiKart within the re­gion.

“We need to look be­yond Fi­jian bor­ders.”

He said the initiative started be­fore the coro­n­avirus out­break.

The app could not have come at a bet­ter time, Mr Peters said.

PFIP sup­ported the where the idea first came up.

Third from left, Voda­fone act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ronald Prasad, Com­merce min­is­ter Faiyaz Koya, Pa­cific Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Prac­tice pro­gramme man­ager Bram Peters in a group photo yes­ter­day.

Narayan Choy on his way home af­ter some work on his cane­field.

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