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A Case for Blockchain and Virtual Reality in the African E-commerce Space

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E-commerce came into existence as the solution to the stress of beating traffic to get to stores, bringing about a more convenient way of buying and selling. Today, online retail seems to be fast replacing the brick and mortar stores, and warehouses are becoming the one place to order items from. Ventures such as Alibaba, eBay, Payporte, Jumia, and Konga are cashing in big on African’s need to do convenient shopping from the comfort of their homes. While this a massive opportunity for the boost of emerging markets, blockchain, and virtual reality are bringing their promises into the e-market and are already disrupting the normalcy of things.

According to Mattia Crespi, the CEO of Qbit, e-commerce will probably grow to become a more immersive and ambient kind of experience given these two variables. This goes to bolster the possibility that blockchain and VR could be the next big thing in the African electronic market. From the transactions viewpoint, this revolution has already started taking its swing all around us. Bitcoin value seems to be on the rise again, and this currency makes use of the blockchain technology. The blockchain is an ‘online ledger of transactions’ which is kept under maintenance by a network of anonymous computers on the internet. Its backed by no government, no central bank and no one is responsible for supporting the value of the currencies.

Crypto and blockchain, generally, no doubt have a remarkable number of applications. But what appears to be the killer app for the blockchain is called the metaverse, according to a High Fidelity blog post. With that vision, the crypto firm is building an entire infrastructure to introduce crypto in virtual environments. But it seems Bitcoin and other blockchain systems do not have all it takes for these virtual worlds because of the transaction frequency, as explained in a video by Philip Rosedale.

Should it be true that virtual worlds are a killer app for blockchain systems, it will as well be factual that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies will well disrupt the real world, and they are already impacting. Companies need to have access to breakthrough tech, but not all of them have their eyes set on selling virtual goods on virtual worlds. Some of them have interest only in selling physical products on virtual ambient that is not open. The latest about the virtual world is starting to open countless possibilities for the meteoric development of e-commerce, and some companies are already looking to avail themselves the opportunity and become extremely powerful engines for online retail solutions.

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With the pace at which it goes, a tool such as digital asset registry could come in handy when bridging between virtual and real purchases. Simply put, as said in a post, you can buy a pair of sneakers for your avatar in the virtual world and get what will be an un-falsifiable coupon for the same item in a real store. Virtual worlds are going to be built as cities or hubs with brands will put their goods up for sale and users can purchase them as virtual goods for their avatars or as real goods for themselves, or both. Such a project is being embarked on by High Fidelity, a firm that wants to build a virtual world called Quantum City that will take a full swoop across the world’s online retail market.

According to a Forbes post, the two primary drivers for blockchain’s disruption for e-commerce and decentralization and regulatory changes: such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – Europe’s data law that was recently introduced.  Just as Nokia was disrupted by Apple, IBM by Microsoft, brick, and mortars by online retail, the time has come for blockchain to change the way e-commerce works. According to this post, as customers are becoming increasingly aware of products’ history, price and sustainability, blockchain intervention compounded will shake up e-commerce players and lots of vendors might get sifted. As well, the price control exerted by monopolists will be a differentiator for customers, and enhanced transparency will be the order of the day, as buyers will better see what they are purchasing.

Since crypto payments are genuinely borderless, it will immediately take the set of fees charged by online stores off from the table. Sellers will be able to receive near-instant means of value reception; making issues such as three-day payment delays and awaiting credit card clearance completely disappear from the scene. Even though Bitcoin’s fees eclipsed in 2017, approaching USD 20 transaction batching had led to their drop to lowest levels. No more fraudulent chargebacks, no payment processor to unilaterally reverse transactions and there will be no bias on the part of e-commerce teams as per favouring their customers.

Blockchain is bringing about decentralized marketplaces and provide lower prices for consumers and better rules for retailers. Early blockchain projects such as Syscoin are already creating online marketplaces, and while that is happening, none of them have as much as scratched the surface of tackling all the current issues facing the e-commerce industry. But now, projects such as ECoinmerce are checking all the boxes with their blockchain-powered marketplace and platform, aiming to solve even many other issues. Cost of selling good will be 0.1 percent; sellers will have absolute ownership of all digital assets including their storefronts, reviews, product photos/videos, and so on. The ownership is said to be 100 percent recorded on the blockchain, sellable, rentable and tradable. Other promises of a free, fair e-commerce platform are as well in abundance.

Also Read:  African E-commerce Enterprises Should Join the Chatbot Bandwagon

As for virtual reality, it is not just about shifting online stocks, and being that e-commerce is always on the change, even augmented reality can join in the effort to help improve online sales. CCS Insight states that it is estimated that by 2018, its 24 million VR devices will be sold globally. Combine that with the fact that 77.24 percent of shoppers abandon their carts before completing their purchase due to one reason or the other, alongside over 450 independent firms posing on AngelList as VR tech startups; e-commerce seems to be in a lot of good trouble. AS VR and AR are coming, users can explore virtual showrooms – adding a new level of intrigue to the online shopping experience. Have you seen Lowe’s Holoroom? That is one of the leading in these terms, as its innovation labs convey that visualizing a home with VR gives customers a better look before making deals.

A far more immersive shopping experience will enable users to put on a headset at home and immediately find themselves in the midst of a virtual superstore. Customers can also try before they buy – a VR novelty many companies are tapping into. Even more is the fact that tech companies, rather than focusing on the computer-generated world (VR) they are now delving into the AR realm – which allows consumers to see how specific items would fit into their daily life. AR will enable products and items to be overlaid on top of their view and provide better visualization more than just physical items in physical stores. Companies such as Swedish IKEA, Converse, and Lego are already using AR to give their customers an entirely new view of their products. Finally, VR and AR give customers new reasons to visit online stores who have adopted the technology, which means more leads generated and more sales possibility.

Wee Tracker
WeeTracker is a tech media platform with a marked focus on the African technology and startup ecosystem.

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