CellBazaar: Enabling M-Commerce in Bangladesh

Ayesha Zainudeen, Rohan Samarajiva, Nirmali Sivapragasam


E-commerce has been seen as a way to reduce friction in the marketplace. It allows larger volumes of transactions to take place than would otherwise be possible in the conventional marketplace, and it effectively expands markets while opening up opportunities for new ones. However, it is heavily dependent on physical infrastructure and other support services; these are often unavailable or inaccessible at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in developing markets. The rapid proliferation of mobile phones throughout these markets, along with increasingly affordable services, creates opportunity to take the benefits of such applications to the BoP segment in these markets. This article examines the case of CellBazaar, a mobile-based electronic marketplace (e-marketplace) in Bangladesh, perhaps the first of its kind to reach the BoP in a developing market. It is a real-time collection of classified advertisements accessible even through the most basic mobile phone. Taking CellBazaar as a starting point, this article explores the potential for providing a wider range of e-marketplace services, including secure payment and delivery of the goods/services traded in a country with a significant BoP population such as Bangladesh; it looks at some of the obstacles that may arise in such a setting and discusses possible solutions.


e-commerce; m-commerce; mobile phone; more-than-voice; Bangladesh

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