National

It's a buyer's market as smartphone apps mimic auction sites

by Asako Takaguchi

Kyodo

People are increasingly turning to smartphone applications to sell used clothes and goods free of tax.

Shohei Fujii, 28, from Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, took a picture of a T-shirt that no longer fitted him and within three minutes uploaded it to Mercari. It took only two hours to find a buyer and complete the deal.

“I sold it at the price I wanted,” Fujii said.

Launched in 2013, Mercari enables individual customers to trade a range of items from clothes and accessories to books, games and electronic appliances.

“Taking clothes to a flea market involves a lot of time and effort, but smartphone apps are accessed by lots of people and I can get a quick response,” Fujii said.

Apps like Mercari allow for quick and tax-free transactions, with buyers and sellers able to message each other directly to negotiate a price.

Sellers on Mercari just need to upload photos of the items they want to trade, along with information on its condition, and then ask for whatever price they think they can get.

The buyer pays Mercari Inc., the app’s Tokyo-based operator. Once the item reaches the buyer, Mercari releases the cash to the seller, taking a 10 percent cut.

The payment system is designed to protect seller and buyer from fraud, Mercari says.

“It’s easy and secure,” claimed representative Ken Esaka. “With the app, a seller can find a buyer from across Japan and items can be traded in a barrier-free market.”

More than 100,000 items are uploaded per day, ranging from unused paper diapers to tangerines from farmers.

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