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SingTel's US$27M Investment Gives Boost to E-Commerce

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and subsidiary National Computer Systems Pte. Ltd. said Wednesday they will invest S$45 million (US$26.7 million) to give one of the biggest boosts to e-commerce in the republic to date.

Announcing details at an Internet business forum here, the company said it is investing to set up Sesami.com as a major portal to tap into the burgeoning of business-to-business e-commerce in southeast Asia.

Sesami.com will offer enterprise e-procurement solutions and will host services to business partners across the procurement chain.

Aimed mainly at businesses in southeast Asia, the new business portal is part of the global list on interoperable portals that form the Global Trading Web, which includes Commerce One MarketSite in North America and sites in Europe and Japan, company president and chief executive Lee Hsien Yang.

Basically, the Sesami.net marketplace portal will manage all business transactions between SingTel and suppliers, eg. purchase order, invoice, tracking and payment. The service will also manage the electronic catalogue content of SingTel's suppliers centrally to maintain content suitable for use by SingTel.

Sesami.net will also provide integrated business and information services, e.g. shipping, payment and taxation.

"Our vision is simple -- to create an on-line marketplace where buyers and sellers can take full advantage of the global e-commerce hub, " said Poh Mui Hoon, managing director at SESAMi.com.

Sesami.com's marketing efforts will initially be focussed on creating a network of buyers and suppliers within Asean countries and will later expand to Australia, India and Hongkong. <,p> "This announcement will help to accelerate the role of Singapore as a key e-commerce hub of Asia by allowing traders unlimited opportunities to participate in the global trading community," said Lee Kwok Cheong, CEO at National Computer Systems.

"This will be the one place where prospective business partners in Asia will come together to meet and trade online," he added.

Just late last week, a key member of government statutory agency National Computer Board said that Singapore was still lacking the "buzz" in e-commerce relative to developed markets like the US.

The anchor tenant of the portal will be Singapore Telecom and the company has already signed up 21 suppliers, including PC maker Dell and Ericsson.

Sesami.com will provide different solutions for different customers. For small- and medium-sized companies, the hosted commerce application enables buyers to automate the entire purchasing cycle, from requisition to payment, as well as support the procurement of goods and services. It provides a means for users to buy goods from catalogues of multiple suppliers.

For large companies, there is a specially designed system called The Commerce One BuySite Enterprise Edition. The system, which not only covers the whole buying cycle, also decentralizes the purchasing functionality to the desktop, streamlines the approval process, providing increased accuracy, reduced cycle times and lower costs.