Asia-wide e-commerce hub gets go-ahead

US vendor Commerce One has teamed up with Singapore-based systems integrator National Computer Systems (NCS) to provide a hub for business-to-business electronic commerce to Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries as well as India, Hong Kong and Australia.

The partnership, announced Wednesday, will use the Commerce One MarketSite platform to connect buyers and suppliers in the region with counterparts in the rest of the world and help to bring Asian traders onto a global e-commerce platform, the two companies said.

NSC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore's national carrier Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), and the attempt to create a regional e-commerce business hub is crucial to SingTel's strategy, according to company president and chief executive officer Lee Hsien Yang.

The partnership's objective will be to create a full-service business-to-business e-commerce portal within Asia, linking the Asean countries (including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) along with Australia, India and Hong Kong.

In addition to providing electronic procurement software for both indirect (non-production) and direct (mission-critical production-related) goods and services, the portal will offer third-party business services and business community development services, the companies said.

NCS said it will develop Web-based enterprise electronic procurement software to dynamically link buyer and supplier organisations into real-time trading communities.

The SingTel business-to-business marketplace portal will interoperate with Commerce One's MarketSite.net portal in the US to jointly create a global trading community, and SingTel will also be a key anchor buyer organisation of the partnership's e-commerce marketplace, the companies said.

SingTel has recently begun several regional projects to reduce its reliance on its market at home, which will be opened to full competition next year with the entry of the international StarHub telecom consortium.

Analysts recently said that SingTel will either lose market share to the new player or be forced to lower its margins and so will increasingly rely on overseas ventures for profit. The analysts added that SingTel's expected healthy financial results for the just-ended year, due out yesterday, will be hard to match in coming years because of competition from players like StarHub.

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More about ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian NationsCommerce OneNational ComputerNational Computer SystemsNSC GroupSingapore TelecommunicationsSingtelStarHub

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