Facebook Inc., looking to take a chunk of business from EBay Inc. and Craigslist, unveiled a feature Monday that lets users buy and sell products among themselves.
The feature, called Marketplace, is "a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community," Mary Ku, Facebook's director of product management, said in a Facebook post.
EBay and Craigslist are formidable targets, with each proving to be resilient and dominant players in the world of online commerce despite rapid changes in technology and competition from various rivals over the years.
But Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook, with 1.7 billion monthly active users, poses a substantial threat to take some of their market share.
Facebook said its Marketplace will roll out in the next few days to users over 18 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It will be available on the Facebook app for both the iPhone and Android smartphones.
"We will continue expanding to additional countries and make Marketplace available on the desktop version of Facebook in the coming months," Ku said.
With Marketplace, sellers can post items for sale with attached photos in just a few steps, and buyers can search for products in their local community or in other cities.
If a buyer wants an item, they send a direct message to the seller with an offer.
"From that point on, you and the seller can work out the details in any way you choose," Ku said. "Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace."
As a result, Facebook's market might operate more like Craiglist than EBay, which offers some safeguards for consumers.
But because Facebook requires users to list their real names, its service may provide an additional layer of validity and security than is offered on Craigslist, where users are totally anonymous.
This isn't Facebook's first attempt at peer-to-peer shopping. The social network introduced a feature, also called Marketplace, in 2007 as a way for users to post classified listings. But it failed to gain significant traction even after Facebook turned control of the feature over to online-classifieds provider Oodle Inc.
Facebook is attempting the new venture because 450 million users visit its "buy and sell" groups each month.
Facebook's stock was up seven cents, at $128.35 a share, in early trading Monday while EBay fell 63 cents, or 1.9%, to $32.27 a share. Craigslist is privately held.
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