With a precious few minutes remaining on the battery, I was quickly scanning my timeline and saw Telenor’s announcement about launching S7 with VR Gear in Pakistan. Not only do you get the gear for free if you are Telenor customer, you will get an opportunity to try out the Comoyo app. Comoyo? I hadn’t heard of this application as of yet. I did what any self-respecting geek would do – I googled.
Comoyo is an OTT , Over-the-Top application, that bypasses traditional distribution to deliver a media and communication product or service over the internet.
You can think of an over-the-top application as anything that disrupts traditional billing models – from telcos or cable/satellite companies. Examples include Hulu or Netflix for video (replacing your regular TV provider) or Skype (replacing your long distance provider). Source: Techopedia
The more I explored the features, Comoyo appears to be a sticker-heavy messaging + commerce platform that is emphasizing the use of digital Urdu font. Comoyo was developed by Telenor’s very own design/dev team at Telenor Digital.
Anyone else reminded of Line Pakistan? Line Pakistan has been making it’s presence felt by utilising traditional media such a television adverts as well as social media campaigns centering around crowd-pleasers such as the Pakistani cricket team.
Line also offers voice calling, messaging and video calling to it’s users for free. In addition to that, the app is meant to be a platform for businesses to interact directly with consumers via ‘channels’ – from taking orders for a pizza to booking tickets to an upcoming movie release. Any takers for Comoyo? Line? I am willing to test out both simultaneously just to see how the experiences line up.
What would actually be exciting is when we get our digital payments issues sorted in Pakistan and can start using OTT apps for a marketplace at the gargantuan scale of WeChat. WeChat has captured the Chinese market by enabling users to make peer-to-peer payments as well as offline payments to participating retailers via WeChatPay.
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.