Thursday, January 28, 2010 shall adopt Sure Seal & Sure Pass Trustmark for its Sellers and Buyers

RJ David, CEO of, announced that they will give higher importance to advertisements posted by authenticated sellers in their site. The authentication shall be carried out through their partnership with Qartas Corporation, a company offering Trustmark certification service for Philippine-based websites to ensure a safe and responsible environment for the conduct of online trade and business transactions. is one of the most popular classified ads posting forum site in the Philippines. It has more than half a million members with 800 to 900 new members signing up daily. As of to date, the site has accommodated up to 2 million ads posted on the site. Around 2000 to 3000 ads get posted on a daily basis.

Its popularity made the site attractive also to those committing fraud, scam, and identity theft. As a result, due to feelings of uncertainty by both buyers and sellers, a lot of transactions happen offline.

Moving forward, shall be giving priority to authenticated sellers in listing of ads and will have the utility to control the personal information one desires to share on an as-per-request basis. partners with Qartas Corporation to validate legitimacy of sellers and buyers by authenticating the details they post about themselves. This in turn, RJ David hopes will also increase overall trust to products and services marketed through the site.

Qartas offers three types of certification:

  • The Sure Pass Personal is the verification service for independent entrepreneurs or individual sellers. This is applicable for professional service providers like programmers, copywriters, graphic artists, or micro entrepreneurs. The fee for this is two thousand five hundred pesos (P2500).
  • The Sure Pass Business is the verification service for BIR, DTI or SEC registered small enterprises (Sole Proprietor, company below 2 yrs tenure) looking to have their business credentials verified. The verification process includes verifying all legal documentations of your business. The fee for this service is five thousand pesos per year (P5000).
  • The Sure Seal Premium verification service is for established businesses (at least 2 yrs. tenure) registered with the BIR, DTI and SEC. This also includes claims, ocular, and privacy policy verification consistent with International APEC Data Privacy Standards. The fee for this service is sixteen thousand eight hundred pesos (P16,800) per year.

I first heard about the new service, Sure Pass, when Jovel Cipriano shared this in the last E-Commerce Summit. It is meant for individual sellers to assert themselves as credible individuals to deal with. (I will be personally getting this)

The and Qartas Corporation announced their partnership as part of the Philippines 1st Data Privacy Celebration event earlier today (January 28) at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, Mandaluyong City. Top sellers of community and other industry players were invited to discuss the importance of data privacy, how integrating trustmarks in websites help in increasing conversion rates, and the growing concern on internet fraud.

Data Privacy Day, an international event that is celebrated on January 28th in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries in an effort to raise awareness and generate discussion about data privacy and protection.

The event is graced by speakers Dir. Maria Lourdes Yaptichay (DTI E-Commerce Office), Jun Malacaman (representing Usec. Vertus Gil, National Cyber Security Awareness Coordination Office, NCC) , Atty. JJ Disini, and Jovel Cipriano of Qartas Corporation.

My take on data privacy is that it is a personal Internet user responsibility. Companies and other parties getting information from you can only abuse the data you shared will depend if you will allow them to do so. However, when you exercise your right not to give information that you feel is unnecessary (and this I do whenever I get asked to fill up forms offline), you'll realize that they can't force you to give details that you refuse - especially when data privacy is used as an argument. Here are other examples where you can assert your right to data privacy:

  • Person calls your home claiming to be from a credit card company and wanting to get the contact information of a relative who is not home. Best to ask the person's number and tell that you'll have your relative return the call. I have experience in this area where the person who called can't give such information and be contacted back, I argue "how do I know that you are indeed from that credit card company".
  • Be wary when your personal information is being asked through e-mail. This is most true to passwords.
  • Be wary when a site asks too much information that is no longer related to become part of the service.

JJ Disini gave a lot of insight about data privacy, specifically informational privacy. Here is what he presented during the Social Networking Conference 2009 that also tackles the topic with focus on privacy in social networks.

Find more videos like this on DigitalFilipino Club Community

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Friendster focuses on Youth, Security, Online Shopping, & Advertising in 2010

Last month, I got the chance to exchange e-mails with Ian Stewart, Head of Asia of Friendster. We first met during the Social Networking and eBusiness Conference 2009 and it was a thrill listening to all the insights he shared about the youth and why he thinks this segment is exciting.
After 8 months with Friendster, I thought this will already be a good time to ask about developments forthcoming and here it goes:

Janette Toral: You mentioned in the last Social Networking and e-Business Conference the acceptance of the fact that Friendster will always cater to the young. This in Philippines context is nearly 50% of the Internet user population. What activities or features will you be anchoring on to keep that segment loyal to the social network?

Ian Stewart: 80% of our users are under 24, and most of them belong to 3-4 social networking site (SNS). We have the opportunity to be the best site for them and their friends to hang out on. Key drivers for youth online are gaming and music, and these will be key areas of focus for us moving forward. Expect to see a lot more from us in these areas early 2010.

Janette: There has been a lot of talk about cyber bullying that occurs in social networks like Friendster and this includes accounts being hacked, fake profiles created, anonymous profiles created bashing teachers, classmates, school, etc. What is Friendster's point of view or stand on cyber bullying? What is the social network doing about it and fast turn around policy or process in place to ensure that Friendster won't be taken advantage of for such purpose?

Ian: We take site safety and security very seriously, and have both internal service teams and external partners working to ensure that Friendster remains a good environment to be in. Complaints are dealt with on the spot, and our rules of engagement are clearly spelt out. This will only grow in importance moving forward, as those online demand more and more privacy and safety features from their favorite sites.

Janette: Multiply has taken steps to carve its niche in the area of e-commerce. With the young being encouraged to become entrepreneurial, is that a direction that Friendster aims to explore too? If yes, how? If not, why not and what would be the main focus?

Ian: We believe that the inherent trust of friendship communities is perfect for social shopping. Knowing you are selling your goods to a friend, a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend (!) will encourage more people to transact, buy and sell online. Other sites are exploring this too. For Friendster our recent partnership and then acquisition by online payment provider Money Online (MOL) is a clear sign of our intent in this space moving forward.

Janette: I have tried Friendster self-service advertising for 2 to 3 campaigns and apparently disappointed on the reporting tools and lack of control once the campaign is rolled out. What areas of growth can we expect in this area happening this 2010?

Ian: We dived into self-service ads in 2009 to offer more advertising solutions to our users and to advertisers. We have received a lot of feedback on where we are to date with this feature and are working on strengthening the backend as we speak. This is also a revenue growth area for us to get right moving forward.