Bondsy Adds Trust To Transactions For a New Kind Of Social Bartering

Instead of selling to strangers, Bondsy wants you to trade with friends.

Privacy is usually a tangential feature, but in Bondsy, it's the most important one.

The app, which allows people to post their things for any price—whether that be $50, ice cream, dinner, a book, or a gluten-free snack—organizes the user experience around privacy. It only allows friends you add and friends of friends to see your posts.

"Once you create a space where you can actually trust the people who are there, it changes the type of things you post," Bondsy founder Diego Zambrano tells Fast Company. "It changes how that transaction happens. It opens up a whole bunch of things that people aren’t doing anywhere right now."

Diego Zambrano

A flip through it confirms this. One of my friends’ friends is giving away a baby food maker for free, and others will give me a copy of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters for a back massage, punching gloves for lunch, or a carton of tea for a gluten-free snack. Another saw a prime piece of furniture on a curb and just wanted to let everyone know where it was.

There are so many things on Bondsy that you would never see on Craigslist—sprouted seeds, leftover chili, and subway cards with unusued time on them. And Bondsy would never include some of the things you see on Craigslist—things you wouldn’t feel proud to share with people you know. (You can search for Twitter and Facebook friends, but the app isn't built on the back of another social graph.)

Zambrano himself posts home-cooked meals. A Brazilian designer and self-described "lumberjack" (with the beard to match) who gave his TechStars graduation presentation barefoot, Zambrano got the idea for Bondsy in the process of moving from Brazil to New York City when he posted items he wanted to sell on a Flickr account. Many of his friends offered trades instead of the money he suggested.

"The experience was interesting, because I actually met those people in person and had a drink with them, which made it more fun and conversational," he says.

Similarly, on Bondsy, stuff serves an excuse to interact with friends and people who they trust. People don't just try to give away an unused Waterpik. They ask what it is and wonder in the comments if it's from Star Wars.

How any of this behavior will lead to revenue is anyone’s guess. With no transaction mechanism in the app, for instance, I'll be treking from my office in lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side to claim that tea (and I'll make it, I swear).

But it's definitely different.

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