Thoughts on the Google’s Techmela: A Tech-nical Oversight

Living on the internet, as the most of us do, we are used to brands coining new terms in hopes that they become trends on Twitter. The latest effort in the Pakistani Twitterverse is the phrase #techmela by the folks at Google.

The Google-powered “Techmela”  ( technology bazaar ) is being advertised as the biggest online technology shopping festival with exclusive partnership with Daraz.pk as the site hosting the sale.

On the surface, it seems like the Public Relations team was sleeping on the job with the slow spread of the announcement of the “biggest” shopping event.  Aside from the few tech-celebs cut-and-pasting a press release, there was little to go by on what differentiates this online sale from the thousands of products being sold to Pakistanis everyday.

As for the assumption that this particular Google-backed and Telenor-backed event is some sort of technological Messiah for the fledgling E-Commerce domain in Pakistan – I seriously doubt it. 

Granted, when you throw in money by the way Telenor and Google, things will happen. I have to ask though –  How is exclusively supporting one vendor when there are thousands of individual small business people in Pakistan selling their products and services online have any positive outcome on the adoption of e-commerce?  This is nothing but a purely commercial event being touted as a social development.

If you are Google Pakistan, Telenor and any other stakeholder seriously invested in E-Commerce, listen up! The success of the E-commerce domain in Pakistan requires the following scenarios to be considered.

  • If online users are not purchasing products, it is not because there aren’t the right products or even the right discounts being offered. The number one barrier to purchasing online is the inaccessibility to e-banking or mobile banking solutions – especially for unemployed women. 
  • Another reason that online users are not purchasing online is that even if they do select a product, the e-commerce vendor ( here I am referring to a small business person, not a Kaymu or Daraz) has little to no access to payment solutions such as door-to-door credit/debit card payment solutions. One example would be Monet’s Swipe2Pay mobile point-of-sale service, which can be a viable solution but they are bit vague on how to go about offering their services to small businesses at this moment in time. Such a solution would erase the anxiety that small business face when trying to sell wares to a distant location when Cash on Delivery is simply not an option.

Until the small business persons/merchants are empowered to sell their wares and receive payment from across the nation, the E-commerce domain will continue to be monopolised by the few and the connected.

As for the Google Techmela? IMHO, it is an amateurish attempt at capitalising on the earnest efforts of the tech and banking industry to bridge the gaps in the e-commerce domain.