RealTime IT News

International Briefs

March 26

Australian Official Calls For Businesses To Embrace E-Commerce

The new chief executive of the National Office for the Information Economy, Paul Twomey, called on Australian business to wholeheartedly embrace the Internet revolution and embark on full electronic commerce. The Federal Government is holding an electronic commerce summit in Canberra on April 16 and 17, as part of a two-year, $3 million campaign to promote "e-commerce" to business.

Internet Shares Trading Coming To Singapore Soon

The Singapore stock exchange plans to allow investors to trade shares through the Internet by the end of the year. Most Internet trading systems, like U.S.-based E*Trade and discount broker Charles Schwab, require investors to place online orders with stockbroking firms which then execute the deals. Internet trades will most likely be restricted to $50,000 a day and orders that will have to be executed immediately at prevailing market prices. Payment for shares must also be made immediately, unlike the seven-day settlement period under ordinary trading. Users will likely have to use a smart card to identify themselves before trading and link up to a bank to make online payments.

(Straits Times; March 25, 1998)

British News Service Offers Analysis, Commentary Via Web

Foreignwire.com, a British-based international affairs news service, offers free news, comment and analysis on world issues. The service has grown out of Tower Magazine, which was established in January 1996 as a free service to all those with a close interest in foreign affairs.

(Bangkok Post; March 25, 1998)

European Companies Begin To Close Wired Gap With U.S.

According to IDC, 18 percent of companies in eight major West European nations were trying to sell products over the Internet last year and 39 percent planned to get into cyberspace this year. The volume of goods and services purchased online in Europe would surge to $26 billion in 2001 from $3 billion this year. Rombach und Haas, a German maker of cuckoo clocks, uses its Web site to provide views of its clocks from all angles and lets users hear their distinctive chimes before pointing and clicking their way to an online order. Deutshce Telekom plans to launch Internet telephony services in the autumn, one of the first of the world's major carriers to do so.

(Reuters News Agency; March 23, 1998)

Singapore Firm Offers Business-To-Business E-Commerce Solutions

Singaporean Internet firm SilkRoute Ventures will ramp up its Internet commerce business in the manufacturing sector this year.

Founding chairman Wong Toon King said the firm aims to increase the number of companies using its manufacturing Internet commerce solution - called EC net - from 20 to 500 this year. The 20 current users of EC net include two large Japanese manufacturing firms, Sony and Matsushita, and their smaller partners and suppliers, all based in Singapore.

Newly targeted firms are in Malaysia, Hongkong and Thailand. EC net has reduced the time it takes Sony Singapore to process confirmations of orders from seven days to one day.

(Singapore Business Times; March 23, 1998)

European Law Enforcement Officials May Seek Net Traffic Interception

Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Justice ordered ISP XS4ALL to log all the traffic of a user who was under government investigation, but the ISP refused. Jack Straw, Britain's home secretary, is considering widening the existing powers of the police and other law enforcement agencies in Britain to intercept Internet traffic, and he is also encouraging other European countries to do the same. "We are using 19th century procedures to pursue 21st century criminals," he said at a recent meeting of EU ministers.

(Boardwatch magazine; March 1998)

Cisco Reports Increase In Internet Savings, Sales In Europe

Speaking at the CeBit technology fair in Hanover, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, said Europe is now the fastest-growing sales region for Cisco. In contrast, the proportion of sales in the Asia-Pacific region had fallen from 17 percent to 10 percent, with sales in Korea particularly badly hit. Sales in Japan were down slightly, but the Chinese market remains strong. At Cisco, Web-based commerce accounts for 41 per cent, or $3.6 billion, of its annual sales; it is already saving about $400 million a year by using the Internet for sales support, software distribution, messaging and recruitment.

(Financial Times, Britian; March 21, 1998)

WTO Report: E-Commerce Set for Major Boom By Year 2000

Internet commerce is poised to boom over the next three years, with the value of transactions set to reach US$300 billion by the year 2001, from virtually zero at the start of the 1990s and less than US$10 billion today, according to a study on electronic commerce by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The number of Internet users is projected to almost quadruple to about 280 million (or 5 per cent of the world's population) by the year 2000 from 78 million in 1997.

While the U.S. dominates the Internet today, accounting for 70 per cent of all Web sites, other regions like Africa, Asia and Latin America have posted the highest growth rates for the number of sites created during 1993-97.

The number of personal computers in use worldwide is expected to almost double to 450 million by 2001, from 245 million in 1996; and total consumer expenditure on hardware, software and related services could rise to US$30 billion by 2000, from US$4 billion in 1996. E-commerce will also transform the very structure of some industries, such as finance and air travel.

(Singapore Business Times; March 20, 1998)

Gates In Internet Deals for Malaysia, Singapore

On a visit to SouthEast Asia, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates unveiled five initiatives to flesh out his vision of "the digital nervous system" for Singapore, including Internet acesss via TV, video-on-demand services, and online educational services.

Gates outlined his vision of the "one-stop, non-stop government," where government services can be made available to citizens 24 hours a day in a one-stop service on the Internet, without paperwork.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Gates pledged his commitment to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), and also expressed interest in participating in the country's education programmes - especially in smart schools, universities and training of Information Technology (IT) workers.

(Singapore Business Times; March 20, March 19, 1998)

Intel's Net Products Suitable for Asian Market Despite Economic Crisis

Intel's nine new networking "Intel InBusiness" products may also help small and medium-sized businesses in Asia.

Thomas Lacey, director of product marketing and business management at Intel Asia-Pacific, said investment in networking infrastructure by small-to medium-sized companies remained relevant in the region's weak economic environment. According to IDC, only 2.5 per cent of small- to medium-sized businesses in the Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, had access to the Internet in 1997.

Under a worldwide initiative supporting small and medium-sized businesses, Intel has partnered with ISP Hongkong Telecom IMS to offer bundled packages including online access, a modem and the new Internet Station at promotional prices.

(Hong Kong Standard; March 19, 1998)

British Telecom to Start WebTV Trials

British Telecom (BT) has linked up with Microsoft subsidiary WebTV to start a four to five month trial of the WebTV service using set-top boxes supplied by Pace Micro Technology and Philips.

Britain is generally acknowledged to be at the forefront of adopting digital TV. Cable & Wireless (C&WC) has already announced a digital TV/Internet access package that will use their cable system to offer more interactive services than WebTV, and at higher speeds.

(Internet Magazine, Britain; March 16-20, 1998)