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A public exchange is a type of trading venue that is open to all types of buyers and sellers. The goods and services that are available on this type of exchange may be somewhat narrow, focusing on a few specific offerings, or very broad, allowing an eclectic range of products for sale. In most instances, public exchanges are operated by third parties who have no connections with the buyers or sellers that would create any conflict of interest.
It is not unusual for a public exchange to focus on delivery of a core group of related products. For example, an industry consortium may operate this type of marketplace as a means of allowing for the distribution of news and possibly products related to that industry. With this application, the consortium creates a real or virtual marketplace that sellers can use to display their wares, and that buyers can visit to purchase whatever products they choose. At other times, the exchange is a means of allowing sellers who are somehow related to connect with buyers in a more casual environment. One prime example of this type of public exchange is known as the farmer’s exchange, a situation in which farmers may purchase display space for the crops they grow, then sell a wide range of fruits and vegetables to buyers who visit the site of the marketplace.
A public exchange can also provide a varied selection of products. For example, a community-based exchange may allow local sellers to utilize the marketplace to either sell their goods directly or at least provide information about those goods, ultimately redirecting interested parties to a local or online store. Special interest concerns within the area may also use this approach to allow local self-help groups to connect with the public. The same general idea can also work in a virtual community, allowing the public exchange to function as a means of connecting interested parties with online discussion groups, online sources that could be used for research, or even provide support and information on blogging on a given subject or group of subjects.
The underlying concept of a public exchange is to connect those who have something to offer with those who are most likely to benefit from those products. Often, this type of freelance marketplace includes transactions in which goods or services are offered at a price. Within some communities, this type of arrangement allows buyers to secure goods they desire at prices considerably lower than other outlets. At other times, the offerings are provided as a public service, free for those who seek those goods or services.