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By , March 24, 2012 10:01 am

Credit card is NOT a must in developing e-Commerce. Here is how:

By , March 15, 2012 5:37 pm

During Asia Pacific ICT Summit I received a question on development of e-Commerce and @opspecgsmb tweeted that it depends on credit card penetration.

Dependence on credit card never happened in China and it is not happening in Vietnam.

The situation in  Vietnam (which many Singaporeans may find different from that of their own country)

  1. Still a cash economy
  2. People love buying topup cards
  3. Bank card penetration is only 30% of the population
  4. It takes an urban Vietnamese 5 minutes to visit their local mom-and-pop shop
  5. Every household possesses personal vehicle
  6. It costs 50 cents to deliver goods from a warehouse to a location in the city
  7. Buyers haven’t trusted online transaction

Here are what e-commerce companies in Vietnam are doing:

  • Setup distribution network with local mom-and-pop shops, pavement stalls, internet cafĂ©. Provide these agents with physical topup cards or web interface or SMS interface. Exploit (4)
  • Cash on delivery. Exploit (3)
  • Partner with post offices. Customers can pay at post offices.
  • Provide cash collection services

So customers don’t even need to have bank accounts to buy and trade online, not to mention credit cards.

Of course, it sounds primitive but that’s what’re happening while we wait for the adoption to hit critical mass.

Where is the role of technology?

We can use PayPal. There are also local PayPal clones with much lower fees. With a local bank debit card (I don’t even need a Visa/Mastercard), I can buy stuffs online and perform interbank transfer for free (at least free for now when companies are educating users).

The obstacle is buyers habit and problem of trust.

Groupon clones have helped buyers become more comfortable buying and paying online.

I’ll write a separate post on solving the problem of trust.

So that pretty much wraps up one point on infrastructure for e-commerce in Vietnam. If you’re interested please CLICK HERE to read more.


Nivi.vn – second Vietnam Weibo clone launched

By , March 13, 2012 9:57 am

The second Weibo clone in Vietnam is Nivi.vn from NCT (the first one was Zing Live).

I guess NCT wants to capitalize NhacCuaTui community and relationship with celebrities to drive Nivi.

Follow me on Nivi: @taitran

Expect more clones to come this year.

Sharing interests on Facebook sucks, therefore Pinterest

By , March 3, 2012 3:16 pm

One of the reason why Pinterest in taking off rapidly is because it is doing a much job at sharing interests than the giant social network Facebook.

Facebook has been staggering with interest for a few years. These are where it sucks:

1. Interest sharing hasn’t been going well with profile design

The profile in 2005 where everything (including apps) is crunched into one page is too clustering. Then the interest are hidden away in secondary tabs in the tabbed profile in 2009. With the current timeline profile, interests are stored in the "About" section which is a rightful place but this is only explored by experienced users.

2. Like?

The design just before Timeline allows declaring interests in Music, Entertainment, People who inspire etc.

What annoys me is that as soon as I declare my interests, Facebook automatically makes me Like the respective pages. These pages have their own issues, detailed in the next point.

It wouldn’t be an issue unless Facebook limits the number of pages I can like!

This hinders interest sharing and exploration.

3. Community pages

There are many generic pages for interests which are not managed by authorized organization. Instead, Facebook displays Wiki articles for these interests. Wiki articles are knowledge-soaked, structured, organized, authority-imposed, and dry. Interests, only other hand, should be organic, natural and sometimes emotional.

This doesn’t feel right.

4. Search

I used to be able to search for people sharing the same interest. Not anymore.

Without searching, what’s there for exploration?

5. Bad design

Icon design for interests on Facebook are boring and ugly.

So Pinterest comes in. It’s beautiful, organic, feminine, better designed. But I won’t dwell too much in Pinterest, not yet.

The moral of the story is: Facebook has realized it can’t do everything well, so it chooses to be a platform. If a product can solve a need better than Facebook, it can haz cheese.

Another Facebook feature that sucks: Networks.

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