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ILM West: Closing the Loop

By: 14 December 2011

Moh Ok, Chief Scientist at PayPal, and Bo Fishback, CEO and Founder of Zaarly, talked about the integration of social, local and mobile to close the loop on driving consumer purchases during a morning dedicated to SoLoMo here at ILM Asia.

Ok and moderator Mike Boland talked extensively about mobile payments, and whether the market will drive toward a common standard. Ok said PayPal and its parent eBays are currently “laser focused” on commerce. The PayPal mantra is anywhere, anytime, anyway.

Rather than talking about various forms of commerce (mobile, social, etc.), “It really should just be commerce,” Ok said. “You should be able to make it in a seamless way.”

In discussing all the different mobile payment methods out there — Google Wallet, Square and the looming NFC — Ok said the key is to be able to “pay however you want.” He describes PayPal as “Switzerland in terms of how people pay.”

Fishback followed Ok and described Zaarly, which is one of those companies that builds a compelling and original business off of an old and simple idea: putting local buyers and sellers together. “I don’t believe in companies that require behavioral change,” Fishback says.

On Zaarly, users post a need and others respond with offers to fulfill that need. Small businesses are essentially being built off of Zaarly, Fishback says. 

Zaarly has fewer than 100,000 users and has had roughly 40,000 posts in the past quarter. The company has roughly 4,000 businesses on its system. 

Fishback says it takes 300 people to create a liquid market.

Boland called it a “reverse Craigslist” and Fishback accepted that as an apt description. Peer to peer hyperlocal is another description.

“The more local you get, the less people want to rip each other off,” Fishback said. “There are no Nigerian scam artists on Zaarly.”

Advancing mobile payments is a key issue for Zaarly. Fishback says there is an imbalance in the market now. “It is easy to pay, harder to get money.” He is looking to partner with innovators in the payment space.


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