A barter system is an old method of exchange. A system that started in Ghana, bartering has been used for centuries and long before money was invented. People exchanged services and goods for other services and goods in return.
In the spirit of re-inventing the old system, a Ghana based startup Swappaholics is has introduced an alternative trade currency that’s been making waves in the country. Launched just over a year ago, the digital platform allows users to post items they would like to swap and identify the things they want in exchange.
Users are given an opportunity to list the items they want to swap and to clearly indicate what they would like in exchange. Interested candidates on the platform can then interact and decide on how to meet up for the exchange.
“Swappaholics is an interactive portal that empowers individuals and businesses to exchange products, skills or services in a mutually beneficial social setting. Swappaholics encourages cashless trading and enables everyone to trade irrespective of their financial status,” said Francis Obirikorang, CEO and Co-Founder of Swappaholics.
Registration on the website is currently free and the startup has in the past indicated that it plans to monetize via a premium SMS subscription service and in-app advertising. The platform has over 3000 registered users and has recorded over a thousand successful swaps.
“We’re introducing an alternative trade currency, the social or in-kind currency which is going to break the monopoly of money as the only legal trading currency in emerging markets such as Africa and Asia.”
The company has rolled out versions in Ghana, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with plans to expand to Nigeria and South Africa by the end of 2017.
The startup’s app, Safe Swap, handles the swap process on behalf of third party swappers, including product verification, handling and shipping. Meanwhile, it also sells featured Swap advertisements, where swappers pay a premium to have top advert placements on the platform.
“I had an iPad Mini Retina 64gb with a broken screen and posted it on the website. I later swapped with a phone/tablet repairer who offered me a brand new iPad Mini Retina but 16gig,” one user shared on the platform.
Swappaholics is also the first ever African Startup to make it into the Dubai based seed accelerator, TURN 8- an accelerator program organized by i360 Institute and DP World with the aim of encouraging innovative startups in the UAE region. Applications are received all over the world and the selection process is very competitive.