Copious might still be in beta form but we’re already…er, sold. The social re-sale site fully embraces the next stage of identity on the Web — namely, total transparency in buying and selling. For everyone who’s tried to buy or sell something on Craigslist but worried about dealing with an anonymous potential creep, Copious is looking to launch your antidote.
The site (which is free for users) lets anyone sell anything (within reason — there’s no, say, firearms section). But both buyers and sellers must sign up through Facebook — meaning that neither party is anonymous. While no private data or Facebook-listed interests will show up on a Copious user profile, the site automatically pulls in your default profile photo and lists how many friends you have. The latter detail is more than just a popularity marker — if someone has no Facebook “friends,” it’s a good way to spot a fake profile.
Meanwhile, Copious keeps a running tally, visible on member profiles, of all the items a person has bought, sold, and is currently selling — just like eBay. When you register, it encourages users to invite friends, through their email networks, to join the site. Within the Copious community, you can opt to follow other members (something that will also be visible on both members’ profile). Basically, the site is set up to provide the maximum amount of transparency so that users can feel comfortable buying and selling everything from handbags to sporting goods to electronics.
As for payment, buyers only need to enter their credit card information at the moment of transaction. All the payments filter through PoundPay, the external payment site. Sellers have to set up (free) PoundPay accounts in order to get paid — and you can receive payment through direct deposit, their PayPal account, or an old-school check in the mail.
Copious just launched in January of this year, but it already has backing from Foundation Capital, Embarcadero Ventures, the Blackberry Partners Fund, and Google Ventures. Despite being a separate venture, the member homepage is set up in a way that’s not unlike Facebook itself (as with Facebook, there’s even the option to engage in a limited way by merely “liking” an item). It seems poised to strike a really nice, accessible balance between enabling people who already know each other to conduct transactions, and encouraging strangers to sell to each other by, well, making them less strange.