RealTime IT News

E-Commerce in Singapore Set to Quadruple Over Next Six Months

E-Commerce In Singapore Set To Quadruple Over Next Six Months
According to a survey by Singapore's National Computer Board (NCB), the proportion of Internet users conducting online transactions in Singapore is expected to quadruple from 6 percent to 26 percent over the next six months.

The NCB, which randomly polled 1,500 people, said that currently fewer than one out of 25 Singaporeans shop on the Internet but rapid acceptance is expected as access to the Net become faster and more secure.

(Asiaweek; July 31, 1998)

Softbank Plans to Unveil Suite of Net-Based Financial Services
Japanese software wholesaler Softbank Corporation plans to offer a wide range of financial services--including audit and tax consulting, securities brokering and casualty insurance--over the Internet in cooperation with domestic and foreign firms.

It is negotiating with a leading Japanese auditor on a consultancy venture, and will set up an online brokerage by fiscal 1999 with U.S. Internet stockbroker E*Trade. Softbank also plans to set up a financial services corner on the Yahoo! Web site. Yahoo's Japanese site records more than 11 million "hits" per day.

(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan; July 31, 1998)

The Internet and Postal Systems: Challenges, Opportunities
The Berne-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) expects international letter volumes to grow by 2.5 per cent a year until 2005--but the percentage of the world communications market accounted for by physical mail will fall, from 20 per cent to 15 per cent.

First class mail, in particular, faces increasing pressure from Internet e-mail; and with more than 1.1 billion letters posted every day, this poses a significant threat to postal service revenues.

"Although technology is seen by some as a threat to the postal services, the Internet offers [them] new opportunities, said Janine Mathieu, corporate communications manager at Singapore Post.

The United States Postal Service plans to introduce electronic stamps this year, using technology developed by Californian-based E-Stamp Corporation. By using their 350-year-old status as "trusted third parties" in the delivery of mail, postal services could become important guarantors of electronic communication--issuing and authenticating digital signatures and acting as champions and regulators of encryption standards.

(Financial Times, Britain; July 31, 1998)

Australian Government Announces Internet Grants for Disabled People
The Australian Federal Government announced grants of $1.5 million to deliver improved online services to people with disabilities.

The grants are being allocated as part of the @ccessability program which the government has earmarked $3 million in funding between 1998 and the year 2000. The minister for the Information Economy, Senator Richard Alston said that the projects covered will assist to ensure that disabled persons receive the same access to Internet services as the rest of the community.

(INet-com magazine, Australia; July 31, 1998)

ISPs in Poland Compete Via Value-Added Services
Competition among ISPs in Poland--such as Internet Technologies--is growing as they try to distinguish themselves by offering a variety of value-added services such as satellite links, Internet phone calls, and electronic e-mail signatures.

More than 20 firms now provide basic Internet services and e-mail. As a growing number of companies use the Internet or other public networks for financial transactions or to store sensitive information, they have needed to boost security via firewalls. Tomasz Hofmokl, director of the Research and Academic Computer Network said he has noticed a rise in company requests for Internet security.

(Internet magazine, Britain; July 30, 1998)

Internet TV to Receive Boost Via France's Sale of Stake in Thomson
The French government agreed to sell as much as 30 per cent of Thomson Multimedia, one of Europe's largest consumer electronics makers, to industrial partners including Microsoft, DirecTV, NEC and Alcatel.

The investment is expected to expand the delivery Internet services via television. Microsoft will provide Thomson with the software to display text and images from the Internet on television; Thomson will license and sell set-top boxes, using Microsoft's WebTV technology, under the Thomson brand in Europe and the RCA brand in the U.S.

(Bloomberg News; July 30, 1998)

U.N. Internet Database to Help Stop Food Waste in Developing Countries
Millions of tons in food crops from developing countries go rotten each year due to poor storage and transport or damage by pests.

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation has launched a new Internet-based Information Network on Post-Harvest Operations aimed at reducing post-harvest food losses through an exchange of knowledge on indigenous technologies for food handling, preparation and processing. The network is targeted at food producers, researchers, policy-makers, private investors, donors and NGOs.

(Pan African News Agency; July 29, 1998)

Internet Society Conference Addresses Global Regulatory Issues
Legal and regulatory issues were one of the key topics of the Internet Society's recent INET '98 conference in Geneva.

Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, said that the financial as well as the legal aspects would be more important than the pure technical issues for the Internet's future. Director of the Internet Society Donald M. Heath recommended that the Internet be left "alone for a while, until we can find out its borders."

Jeffrey H. Matsuura, author of a recent book on law and the Internet, warns against the urge that governments seem to feel to do something right now, whereas most probably solutions designed today would not survive upcoming developments. But others countered that such comparisons cannot be made, due to the global nature of the Internet and its strikingly fast growth.

(Bangkok Post; July 29, 1998)

Laws for E-Commerce Being Drafted in India
A set of laws to regulate e-commerce and promote data security will soon be placed before the Indian Cabinet.

The issues on which draft laws have been formulated relate to the establishment of an information security agency and data protection Act for processing computerised data. Other issues like modifications in the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, the Indian Post Office Act of 1888 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1993 will also be taken up.

(The Telegraph, India; July 28, 1998)

IBM Ramps Up E-Business Initiative in Malaysia
IBM will move into the second phase of its "e-business" drive in Malaysia with its upcoming "Foundation for E-Business Symposium and Exhibition."

The focus will be on key issues behind e-business, namely availability, scalability and security. With discounts of up to 50 per cent, IBM's Foundation for E-Business promotion offers affordable solutions focusing on Intranets, firewall security and e-commerce. "Leasing options are also available to put highly available, scalable and secure e-business solutions within the reach of our Malaysian customers," said Daniel Ng, IBM ASEAN/South Asia Business Systems senior marketing manager.

(The Star, Malaysia; July 27, 1998)

British Internet Music and Video Retailer Plans Expansion in Europe
IMVS.com, one of Britain's largest Internet music and video retailers, plans to raise capital to finance its European expansion programme in countries like Germany.

The company sells music and videos by mail order from its own Internet site, and administers the online sales operations of various record labels, including Island and Polydor, both part of the PolyGram group. Roughly 40 per cent of IMVS's sales come from consumers outside Britain.

(Financial Times, Britain; July 27, 1998)

UPS to Launch Internet-Based Service in Hong Kong
United Parcel Service expects to complete the rollout of a suite of new Internet delivery services in Hong Kong by year's end with the launch of UPS Online Dossier.

The service forms part of UPS Document Exchange, the company's latest electronic commerce initiative that includes UPS Online Courier. Jerome Fontaine, strategic research and development manager at UPS Asia-Pacific, said UPS Online Dossier is the first such service that has received legal recognition from a number of governments around the world. It utilises encryption and digital certificates for validating identity. At present, the UPS Online Dossier service is available for customers located in the U.S., Britain, Japan, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa.

(Hong Kong Standard; July 23, 1998)

Germany, European Countries Tackle Internet Child Porn
Germany is leading the way with a Europe-wide call for tougher legislation and international co-operation to deal with the problem of child pornography, specifically with regard to the Internet.

A number of German politicians, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, have called for an international legal convention to tackle the issue, as well as adding it to the agenda for the next meeting of the European Union. A broad censoring of the Internet is not being touted as a solution, but rather a more co-operative network of police forces around Europe and closer monitoring of various areas of the Internet.

(Internet magazine, Britain; July 20, 1998)