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Comparison Shopping

Ulan Bataar: money changers

A walk from the Container Market to Tomorchiin Gudamj takes you through an aisle of parked cars. In each one thick wads of different currencies – roubles, yen, dollars and renminbi folded and squeezed between the dashboard and the windshield. This market is very much for locals wishing to exchange money and the car s warm enough for the exhanger, sufficiently secure, and easily identifiable for repeat customers. One thing that is missing is notification of exchange rates – making it difficult as a consumer to know which seller to approach first. It’s unlikely that they are simply not organised enough, or that the rates fluctuate too frequently. The act of exchanging money is legal but advertising it is not? A ploy to force customers to approach a car window and engage in negotiation? A lack of advertising makes comparison shopping harder?

Roll forward 5 years – everyone has mobile tools enabling easy, non-proprietary, sufficiently secure, proximate communication and increasingly the phone is used as a store of money and call credits. How will this scene be different?