The eBay owned classifieds provider has launched a peer to peer (P2P) trading platform that means buyers and sellers never have to meet in order to complete a transaction.

The company hinted that its P2P platform is the first of a series.

“Our first affiliate, Motofinn (powered by Deloitte), deals purely with car transactions. Using Motofinn significantly reduces the risks associated with selling a car as a group of expert evaluators will ensure the legitimacy of the buyer, protecting both sides,” Johan Nel, Gumtree SA CEO told Fin24.

The P2P platform acts like an escrow and verification service that seeks to protect both buyer and seller in the transaction. But safety is a key component, said Nel.

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“Motofinn ensures full transparency – documents and information will be independently validated before you hand over your vehicle. Motofinn will reduce the chances of encountering an online scammer as they will take charge of the entire sales process on your behalf.”

On its website, Motofinn says that it charges the seller R795 and the buyer R1 995, which covers items such as a roadworthy test, licensing, inspection and verification of mileage

“The buyer can rest assured knowing that the car has undergone full DEKRA testing and verification, the seller knows that the buyer is verified financially and the sales amount paid into their account without incident,” said Nel.

Estimates suggest that there are about eight million credit cards in SA, and Nel argued that the Gumtree P2P platform did not obligate people to transact via credit cards.

“Very few of our customers transact via credit card on Gumtree – the buyer and seller typically agree on a convenient payment method, whether it’s cash or EFT or even a swop. We wanted to ensure that we aren’t limiting buyers and sellers, so there are alternatives for making payment through our affiliates (EFT, cash deposit).”

Nel added that the site, which hosts over 600 000 ads and with 30 000 being posted per day, will soon expand the service for other transactions.

“There is no need to handle large amounts of cash or to negotiate with the buyer personally. A second service will be introduced shortly to fulfil the same role for general deals.”