With the rise of Facebook Marketplace and online classified giants Craigslist and eBay, finding the right used car without having to step into a dealership has never been easier. But many of these transactions require you to trade wads of cash or a direct check, making the transaction uncomfortable, and sometimes even unsafe.
Long-time startup marketer and entrepreneur Paul Brobson had been thinking about technology that could help enable the “micro-payment” space, an area of the economy that often uses cash and checks to transact between two private parties. These small transactions are things like paying a landscaper, a child’s home tutor, or service technicians.
He developed a peer-to-peer payment product, but quickly realized that regulatory and compliance issues would make it difficult to scale. After attending the Global Online Classifieds Summit, which focuses on online marketplaces, he saw that his idea was still viable in one specific market: used car sales.
“Our initial idea was good, but a very expensive business. We started pivoting into the peer-to-peer space that allowed us to continue our basic concept of disrupting cash and checks, but between private parties who were selling merchandise across these classified marketplaces,” says Brobson.
Trusted.Sale is an end-to-end solution for private vehicle buyers and sellers to conduct a cashless transaction and safely sell their car over the marketplace of their choice.
The platform goes beyond passenger vehicles into recreational vehicles, sports vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, boats, and commercial vehicles. They plan to expand to other merchandise in the future.
“People are currently taking personal and financial risks when they try to sell a vehicle on their own. They could be scammed, become a victim of fraud, lose their vehicle, or get harmed,” says Brobson.
“We’re trying to create conveniences, but also take the fear away of dealing and handling cash with strangers by creating a secure payment transaction platform.”
The seller first creates a listing with photos of the vehicle and basic details. The listing also comes with a customizable checkout page.
Trusted.Sale promotes the listing on your behalf in up to 150 marketplaces and classified sites for free, or the seller can use the link to promote it themselves. This feature takes away the pain point of constantly updating multiple listings and keeping track of interested parties across sites.
When an individual expresses interest in initiating a transaction, Trusted.Sale first verifies the identity of both parties using their email, phone number, and bank account. Then, the app provides a designated safe zone for the two parties to exchange the vehicle and complete the transaction.
During the meeting, the app will prompt both parties to verify and acknowledge that the vehicle is being purchased and everything looks good. Once that happens, the funds are transferred instantly and both parties sign a bill of sale through the platform.
Trusted.Sale lets sellers use the service with no initial charge. When the sale is completed, it charges a transaction fee, deducted directly before they receive their payment.
The Atlanta-based startup kicked off a pilot beta this month before a public launch next quarter.
They’re testing out a few additional features as well. The Trusted.Sale CPO program provides a certified pre-owned program for private vehicles. “Under this program, you’ll be able to take your vehicle to one of our inspection partners. Once your vehicle completes the inspection, your car will be certified and it can carry a warranty when you sell it,” Brobson says.
This will make it easier for sellers to find buyers with the added warranty and be able to ask for more in their listing.
“The goal for this pilot is very simple — to onboard users and get as many transactions as possible so we can learn which channels are feeding our engine and optimize those channels,” says Brobson. He hopes to put his 25 years of experience in customer acquisition at enterprises and startups to work and build on the pilot’s feedback prior to launch.