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International Briefs

Deals With Banks, IBM, HP Boost Singapore's Offerings In E-Commerce
Singapore has become the headquarters of a new regional online alliance between banks and IBM that enables financial institutions in Asia-Pacific to offer various services through the Internet and private networks.

The alliance, Interactive Financial Services (IFS), includes Dutch bank ABN Amro and Visa. The first online services will be available from at least one IFS member bank by this year-end, said IBM Asia-Pacific retail banking director Graham Murray. Hewlett-Packard decided to run its Asia-Pacific Web-based commerce operations out of Singapore. HP already receives over 30 percent of its Asia-Pacific orders of personal computers and peripherals from its resellers, some US$10 million a day, via the Internet.

(Singapore Business Times; August 6, August 4, 1998)

Indian Government Monopoly ISP Gears Up for Deregulated ISP Market
Under Indian monopoly ISP VSNL's new tariff plans, costs of leased lines will drop by up to 30 percent.

The move to slash Internet access charges has generally been expected, since private ISPs have been given the option to set up their own international gateways rather using the VSNL gateway. Furthermore, VSNL's Internet roaming facility, earlier available only for users in New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai, has reportedly been extended to Hyderabad as well.

(Economic Times, August 5; Indian Express, August 4, 1998)

Chinese Economic Growth Boosts Need for Online News In Japanese
As more Japanese companies set up operational bases in China, the need for detailed news about China's domestic economic affairs is growing.

In response, ventures are springing up to provide economic and business data via the Internet. Trading company Okuran Honour set up a site providing Japanese translations of articles obtained from China's State Information Center and from regional economic papers. A similar Internet-based information service is now also being offered by Newsnet Asia.

(Nikkei Weekly, Japan; August 3, 1998)

Yahoo Expands Auditing, Sales, Content In Australia and New Zealand
Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand, launched last October, is the company's eighth international service following those of Yahoo! Korea and Yahoo! Asia.

Yahoo! plans to expand its business in New Zealand and is now looking for sales staff and content providers, according to senior producer Allan Jones, based in Sydney. In Australia the company joined with Visa to build an Australian shopping guide.

Yahoo! has its own audits performed by Ernst & Young, and is currently going through the process of being audited by the Australian Bureau of Circulation.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; August 3, 1998)

New Book Addresses Internet Issues for A Malaysian Audience
The recently published "Malaysia Internet Book," by Wong Siew Lyn, attempts to provide a Malaysian view of the Internet.

"I believe it fills a niche in a market currently flooded by books written by foreigners who might not be aware of the situation here in Malaysia," she said. "It traces the history and development of the Internet in Malaysia," she said, and attempts to chart the country's Internet growth into the future. "It talks about the Multimedia Super Corridor and what it's really all about--not the numbers and gigabytes and cliches, but about how ordinary citizens can fit into the 'Big Digital Picture,'" Wong said.

(The Star, Malaysia; August 3, 1998)

European Companies Taking Longer to Evaluate E-Commerce Than In U.S.
Inotech consultancies like Price Waterhouse Coopers detected different patterns emerging in e-commerce developments within Europe that contrast with the U.S. experience.

Clear distinctions are developing, especially in the routes taken to market by European businesses. A longer period of evaluation is a clear feature with European companies. In part this is because of the more complex cultural and legal issues, slower consumer uptake of Internet access, and local factors such as poor telecommunication infrastructures, and paucity of local Internet talent.

(Financial Times, Britain; July 14, 1998)

U.S. Urges China to Loosen Content Restrictions on Internet
The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China claims Shanghai authorities recently added 150 computer experts to monitor Internet traffic and to develop technologies for controlling the flow of information.

This past April, Lin Hai became the first person in China to be arrested for "inciting the overthrow of state power" by using the Internet. "To limit its reach would be to deny China the social, intellectual, and commercial connections which are demanded in today's global village," said William Daley, U.S. commerce secretary, who pressed Beijing to loosen its restrictions on the Internet.

(AsiaWeek, August 14; Wired News, August 6, 1998)

Australian Company Provides Internet Solutions for German Banks
Melbourne-based software firm Open Software Associates (OSA) installed Internet-based systems at Noris Bank, a subsidiary of Germany's Hypo-Vereinsbank.

Bank customers can transfer funds between accounts and third parties, pay bills, and buy shares over the Internet.

"Although Germany is traditionally a bit slower than other European markets, they're pushing Internet banking very quickly right now," said Marcus Brown, OSA's European general manager. OSA already installed an Internet banking system at Dresdner Bank in Germany.

(Australian Financial Review; August 8, 1998)

Microsoft Network Gears Up for Portal Battle In Britain
Microsoft's Internet Start is gearing up for the portal battle in Britain between Yahoo!, Excite, Netscape, and soon to come, AOL.co.uk. MSN said it will add a domain name search and ordering system later this month. MSN added free e-mail in the form of HotMail, and is scooping up numerous third parties to provide content and services. Hotmail has 609,000 users in Britain.

(Internet Magazine, Britain; August 7, 1998)

Web Sites Provide Services for Translation, Learning of Languages
The Net continues to be dominated by English-language content, but is beginning to show some linguistic diversity.

For example, there is a automatic translator site, Aquarius Directory of Translators and Interpreters for Egypt, Burkina Faso, Morocco and South Africa. manual translation services are also popping up, including In-Translation, covering Spanish, German and French; ITM Solutions; Translation Express, covering more than fifty languages; and TransWeb, staffed by 1,800 translators in several countries.

(Weekly Mail and Guardian, South Africa; August 5, 1998)

Global Domain Names: Challenge for Internet Self-Governance
The global Net community has until 30 September to set up a new domain naming and address authority.

A series of politically charged meetings around the world are the scene of a power struggle between competing interests--nations, naming authorities and big corporations. It may be the first and the last chance for the Internet to create true self-governance.

Countries like Australia want to see the Asia-Pacific region given due weight--and to ensure that the new system is not U.S.-centric.

(Sydney Morning Herald; August 4, 1998)

World's Largest Internet Advertising Agency Created
In a move to create the largest agency devoted to creating advertising on the Internet, Agency.com agreed to buy Eagle River Interactive.

Agency.com, which was founded in 1995, will have 575 employees in 10 offices and 1998 revenues of about $80 million.

Agency.com's largest clients include British Airways, GTE and Metropolitan Life. Eagle River, serves clients that include Sprint and Disneyland Paris.

(New York Times; August 3, 1998)



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