TOKYO (Dec 5): Yusuke Mitsumoto had a hunch: what if you paid people instantly for their used goods over the internet, with no guarantee that they would hand them over?
The 36 year-old e-commerce entrepreneur launched an app in June to test the idea. It worked better than he imagined; after 16 hours, he was stunned to discover he was on the hook for 360 million yen ($4.3 million) and shut the service down. A day later, truckloads of clothes and electronics gadgets started to arrive, with his startup’s employees forming a bucket line to move packages into his company’s tiny office in Tokyo.
All told, less than 1 in 10 second-hand-goods sellers didn’t deliver as promised. That was good enough for Mitsumoto, who relaunched the service, called Cash, in August as a new way to gather inventory for an online flea market. Total daily purchases are capped at 10 million yen, and are limited to smartphones, luxury handbags, watches, clothing and other specific items from a list of several thousand. Customers take a photo and are given a non-negotiable offer. Prices are set automatically based on data gleaned from other second-hand marketplaces and Cash makes money by reselling the goods.