The latest version of Skype, the internet telephony software that allows web users to talk to each other for free, includes additional features to bring buyers and sellers together.
New elements to the software, such as SkypeFind and a beta of Skype Prime, will extend the possibilities beyond voice and video calls by expanding into new market areas and allowing expertise to be shared.
SkypeFind is designed to be a community-generated guide, allowing users to recommend, rate and log their favourite businesses and view suggestions by other members. These suggestions can be anything from a great restaurant to eat in to a particularly efficient electrician. Listings of businesses on SkypeFind can be edited by users. Since launching in beta three weeks ago, more than 4,500 listings have been added.
Sten Tamkivi, general manager of e-commerce at Skype, said the new feature of the service will provide "recommendations you can trust, direct from the Skype community".
The Skype Prime beta, which was launched earlier this week, also features in version 3.1 of Skype. It allows paid Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls in addition to the free calls on offer and enables experts in their field to charge callers for their and advice. Rates can be negotiated between the caller and service provider at the beginning of the call.
Jaanus Kase, who helps run and contributes to the Skype blog site said: "Nothing will change in our free global Skype-to-Skype calling, but on top of it, you can now have paid calls if you want."
Typically calls of this type have been limited to particular countries. What is unique about Skype Prime is that there are no such borders, and enables call providers and callers to communicate globally. Paid video calls are also permitted by the new addition to the software.
Skype Prime is currently in beta stage and both the caller and call provider need to be using the latest version of Skype. The company is hoping to roll it out onto other platforms in the future.
"Skype Prime opens up a whole new market by letting you sell your knowledge to Skype's global community," Tamkivi said.