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E-commerce meets crypto: GM.co founder speaks about the demand for crypto payments

As a mode of payment, cryptocurrencies have enjoyed limited use. Beyond digital assets such as NFTs and the occasional retail merchant, there aren’t too many avenues for people to spend their coins.

In late 2021, the founders of GM.co set out to change this. “We were heavily involved in this space at the time and saw a real need for people to transact using crypto,” says CEO and co-founder Julian Chow.

With the bull market well underway, there was a lot of money flowing into crypto at the time, but a lack of real-world use-cases. For many, crypto was more a speculative investment than an actual currency.

The vision for GM.co was crowdfunded through the PxN: Ghost Division NFT project, a collection of 10,000 avatars, granting holders access to future rewards and benefits.

NFTs in the collection were initially bought for as much as 2ETH, which was worth around US$5,000 at the time. To date, the collection has recorded over US$90 million in secondary sales volume, as per the current price of ETH.

Over the past year and a half, GM.co has taken shape as a blockchain-based marketplace for a variety of products and services. The name itself is a play on words — an acronym for the phrase “goods meet crypto” — breaking down the fundamental idea behind the business.

Online shopping with crypto

When it first launched in March 2023, GM.co was a very barebones website. The most problematic was the issue of transaction fees — it could cost users as much as $12 to simply make a purchase using Ethereum. 

This was a commonly accepted fee in NFT marketplaces, but it simply wouldn’t fly for an e-commerce platform selling physical products.

On traditional marketplaces like eBay, transaction fees are negligible, and that’s the bar GM.co had to strive for. The team devoted a lot of their initial efforts to optimising these costs and have since brought them down by over 80 per cent. Today, making a purchase on GM.co using crypto can cost as little as a dollar.

“We have a little over 1,000 listings right now,” says Chow. “It includes a variety of things from sneakers and collectibles like Pokemon cards to jewellery, clothing, and electronics.”

Naturally, collectibles are the primary driver of the marketplace for now — given that the platform has its roots embedded in an NFT project. However, the team does envision it expanding in the future.

What sets GM.co apart?

Beyond the novelty of using crypto for payment, it stands to reason whether there’s an actual need for such a platform. Chow believes the blockchain technology can help build trust and legitimacy in an online platform.

“A lot of times — [on platforms like eBay and Alibaba] — there is an epidemic of fake reviews. You can buy a hundred reviews for like 50 dollars. This is very disingenuous and makes [the listings] hard to trust,” says Chow.

In contrast, a platform like GM.co benefits from the transparency which blockchain provides. Every transaction is publicly recorded and red flags are easy to spot.

Blockchain also allows for a preferable dispute resolution process, wherein money isn’t held by a third-party, but rather a smart contract until a transaction is complete.

“We have an escrow feature which holds the money in a decentralised contract on the Ethereum blockchain,” explains Chow. This makes it easier to recover funds in case a product isn’t delivered as per expectations.

Finally, as crypto adoption grows, a platform like GM.co gives users a wider range of options to make use of their holdings. It removes the need to convert crypto back into fiat when making real-world purchases.

“There’s just a lot of people with cryptocurrencies with nowhere to spend it and this is a way to give them an outlet.”

The future of GM.co

Chow envisions GM.co as one of the main players in the crypto P2P commerce space. With crypto spending on the rise, he wants to help lead the market and develop the social commerce experience which crypto is commonly associated with.

“We don’t want to just be selling commodities. We want to tap into the community spirit and attitude which crypto holders and builders tend to have.”

Through new retail experiences — for example, physical products being accompanied by digital collectibles — Chow hopes to explore ways through which brands can better connect with their consumers.

With a five-year plan in mind and the current bear market seemingly at its tail end, GM.co looks to be set for the future. The company has a remote team — with almost half the members residing in Singapore — and a headquarters set up in Dubai.

Although the company had considered Singapore for its headquarters, Chow believes that the regulatory sentiment was a bit too uncertain for their liking.

“It was a little more bureaucratic than we would have liked. In Dubai, they’re very friendly and their stance has been open. It’s more stable for us to be headquartered there and know that we won’t have to change locations in the next three to five years.”

Featured Image Credit: GM.co

Also Read: How this S’pore AI startup is transforming the marketing sector by automating content creation

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