Singapore’s E-Commerce Sector Lacking Buzz

The Singapore government has taken tremendous efforts to develop the e-commerce infrastructure and business in the
republic but it is still lacking the “buzz,” National Computer Board chief executive Michael Yap said.

“To become an e-commerce hub will take more than
infrastructure and sound legal frameworks. It also takes
‘buzz,'” Yap said at the launch of the ec.Think consortium
and the eAwards program.

The ec.Think consortium, which comprises the private
sector, aims to promote e-commerce here while the awards aim
to recognise companies leading the push.

“Buzz” is a concentration of talent, activity, debate,
research and experimentation about a particular topic. It is
about the velocity and volume with which quality information
and ideas are being shared and exchanged, where intellectual
capital, original thoughts, ideas and concepts are being
generated,” he said.

“This exchange is felt not only in one small area, but
will cross-fertilize and impact the whole value chain,” said
Ya. Such a “buzz” in e-commerce is essential if Singapore is
to become an international center of e-commerce activities.

Highlighting the point, Yap said it was an unhealthy fact
that 60 percent of Singapore companies showed in a recent survey
that they weren’t interested in embarking on e-commerce.

This was the case despite the forecast growth in e-commerce
transactions to S$470 billion by 2003, up from the S$13
billion expected this year across the region.

“The aim is (still) to have 20 percent of Singapore companies
use some form of e-commerce in the next two years, and 50 percent
by the year 2003,” he said.

Yap said the NCB, which has driven computerization in
the public sector and the republic at large, said there are
four thrusts in its e-commerce push.

First, by encouraging academia, consultants and
businesses to take up thought leadership projects on
Singapore and the region.

Second, the republic will build our research capability
by encouraging leading e-commerce research companies to be
based in Singapore.

“We are particularly interested in cross
fertilization of ideas for Asian e-commerce markets,” he
said.

Third, Singapore aims to facilitate and generate forums
for discussion on the latest thinking. Apart from a
conference being co-organized together with the Department
of Statistics and the National University of Singapore, Yap
said the NCB will also organize an Asian E-commerce Festival
in Singapore next year.

“It will have a forum for debate among the e-commerce
stakeholders, academia, venture capitalists and engineers,”
he said.

Fourth, NCB will continue to excel and take greater
leadership at international policy fora, he said.

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