Profit-making idea: Establishing a trusted marketplace for used smartphones

At the beginning of 2020, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted the worldwide market for used and refurbished smartphones will grow to 332.9 million units by 2023, with a market value of $67 billion. According to a study by Deloitte, at least 10% of smartphones end up having three or more owners before being retired.

This is a market that presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs in Africa, says Etop Ikpe, CEO of digital vehicle financing, sales and maintenance platform Autochek.

Much like the solutions that Autochek provides, Ikpe believes a formalised and structured marketplace for used phones can remove some of the challenges that currently exist in the customer journey. Such a businesss, he adds, is viable not just in Nigeria and Ghana, where Autochek has a presence but could be pan-African.

Currently, according to Ikpe, second-hand phones are brought into the Nigerian market from the US and Europe, but often a customer has to deal with issues such as that the phone was stolen or not working properly.

“What is needed is a trusted and formalised marketplace or ecosystem for the trade of phones, where people can trade safely and securely,” he says.

The IDC describes a refurbished smartphone as a used device which has been disposed of at a collection point by its owner; not a hand-me-down or a person-to-person traded device. If classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning. The history and the condition of a phone can be scanned to ensure it is not stolen or damaged. If properly refurbished, these phones could still provide many years of use.

Where sales are concerned, Ikpe believes a successful marketplace could offer real-time auctions of devices to on-sellers and customers