Second Trade Me rival stalls at launch

Last updated 17:40 04/10/2012

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A second online marketplace tilting at Trade Me has stalled at launch., a spin-off of Christchurch firm Treacy Advertising, opened for trading at 3pm today, but a message posted on its website later this afternoon said it had put back its launch "to ensure the servers are switched over smoothly".

It remained open for people to register and list products.

Although it does not have the big money backing of Wheedle, whose shareholders include Mainfreight co-founder Neil Graham, Treacy Advertising has nevertheless committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to a tabloid mail-out of all New Zealand homes on Saturday to promote its service.

Its site will offer members unlimited listings for a flat subscription fee of $10 a month. Director Brenda Treacy said last week Trade Me's charges were now a "very significant monthly expense" for real estate agents, car dealers and other retailers and she believed private sellers and businesses had been looking for an alternative for some time.

Trade Me shares hit a new intra-day high of $4.10 today, before closing unchanged at $4.09.

Wheedle has emailed people who signed up to its online marketplace, reassuring them about the privacy of their passwords but also promising an independent security audit before the site relaunches.

It closed indefinitely for repairs on Tuesday, a day after its fanfare launch.

A fault let people change the reserve price of other people's auctions, but numerous visitors also expressed concerns about the way passwords were communicated in plain text in cookies.

Institute of Information Technology Professionals chief executive Paul Matthews said Wheedle had committed "cardinal sins" while Trade Me advised its members not to use the same logons and passwords to access multiple websites.

Rees' letter appeared to acknowledge those concerns, saying Wheedle was "exploring alternative ways to further increase password security" but said members could rest assured their passwords had been strongly-encrypted in its database.

Wheedle would undertake a complete review of the website, engage an independent firm to carry out a full security check and soon return "better, stronger and safer", he said.

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