Maua e-commerce platform launching in two weeks

SkyEye’s e-commerce app, Maua, will go live and be ready for use on July 3, says SkyEye Chief Executive Officer, Fa’aso’otauloa Sam Saili.

In just two weeks, Samoan people should be able to buy and sell second-hand items, handicrafts, food and more over the mobile app, down to delivery or pick up using unique addresses or G.P.S. coordinates.

The local tech firm announced they were developing Maua last December, after receiving a T$320,000 grant from the Global System for Mobile Association (G.S.M.A.) Ecosystem Accelerator Fund.

Fa’aso’otauloa said the app will be dynamic, and will allow users to search through listings using keywords. It should help rural market vendors and citizens connect to a larger market place, without the hurdles of renting stalls or paying for transport.

Customers will pay a subscription to use all the features, including registration in a business directory, and all transactions can be handled with an online payment facility which should cut down on cash handling.

Over the last month, SkyEye has invited 15 vendors across the app’s eight sales categories to try it out. There are still a few bugs in the technology, but the vendors report being able to learn how to use it.

The app will integrate the company’s latest innovation of ‘Ala’ numbers: unique numerical codes which can denote an address. 

SkyEye Technical Director Unasa Nomeneta Saili said when they were developing Maua, the lack of addresses was a real barrier to success. 

So they made a grid of points across the country, measuring two metres apart from each other and assigned each point a number, called "ala" numbers. Now, Maua, and therefore Samoa, has addresses.

When the app was presented to the public last year, Fa’aso’otaula admitted low rates of smartphone use across the country, especially in rural areas where the app's use is being promoted, could be an issue.

SkyEye’s partner Digicel Chief Executive Officer Farid Mohammed said Digicel has been strengthening data connections around the country but smartphones are still few and far between outside of Apia.

Reducing duty tax on smartphones could be a way to get that technology to rural communities, and connect them to the marketplace using Maua.

“It is early days and they are new technologies so the cost of those technologies is expensive at the moment,” he said.

 “We are talking to the Government to see how we can partner with them to increase smartphone penetration in rural areas.”

During the Chamber of Commerce presentation, Papalii Grant Percival (Natural Foods International) said today’s offerings of high yield, low retention data packages could also pose a problem.

Plans offering a lot of gigabytes for just one or two days may not be effective for small business holder and vendors essentially an online business, he said.

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