One of the world’s oldest trading methods, bartering, is getting a digital era makeover thanks to two corporate giants.
The innovation labs at Telstra and NAB have combined to launch a joint venture online marketplace for SMEs.
Named, Proquo (as in Quid…), it’s much like the ’90s system Bartercard, and allows subscribers to trade services in a barter exchange deal or for cash.
Proquo will clip the ticket on any deals between two businesses in the marketplace. Like other trading sites, it lets SMEs offer a brief, quote, swap, manage payments and review each other after the deal is done.
To minimise risk to both parties, proquo will hold payment in escrow until the job is completed.
The two corporates developed the project via NAB Labs and Testra’s Gurrowa Innovation Lab and it’s being run by co-CEOs from each business.
Telstra Business group MD Andy Ellis said there’s also a dispute resolution system in place.
“We are not guaranteeing services in a sense, but… when (companies) search for a service on the platform there’s an opportunity for them to do the research they need to do,” he said.
Ellis said Proquo was “a great way to enhance how businesses network with each other”.
“Small businesses often struggle to get off the ground and our research shows that the exchanging of services will be a great advantage to many startups,” he said.
NAB’s executive GM of micro and small business Leigh O’Neill said Proquo is not just for Telstra and NAB customers – anyone with an ABN can sign up.
The site is starting with a pilot phase now, followed by the full launch next financial year.