B2C bloc blasts B2B blather

The fashionable IT industry mantra that business-to-business is the future of e-commerce is quite simply false, says business-to-consumer tech support exec David Hsieh.

According to Hsieh, co-founder and VP of business affairs for e-commerce tech support company FaceTime, statistics surrounding e-commerce in Australia "belie" the notion that B2B is the big winner.

FaceTime, which set up shop in Sydney yesterday, provides e-commerce merchants with the technology to allow purchasers one-click access to real-time tech support. FaceTime's products are targeted at B2C e-tailers.

Ramin Mazbani, the principal of www.consult, agreed with Hsieh's sentiments. Mazbani cited figures compiled on Australia's e-commerce expenditure for 1999 which showed that local earnings through B2C e-commerce nearly doubled those of B2B: $920 million from B2C compared with $450 million from B2B.

While Hsieh conceded that the potential earnings of B2B were greater than that of B2C, he pointed out that inter-company e-commerce frequently involved high volumes and more complex transactions, elements he believes will continue to inhibit the uptake of B2B.

As well as its Sydney office, which will act as the company's headquarters for Asia-Pacific, FaceTime has a presence in the US and Europe. However, Hsieh said the company had a customer base in Australia even before opening shop in Europe.

Because FaceTime's service is entirely internet-based, customers are not required to download any software. Therefore, said Hsieh, the company charges customers according to the frequency of their use.

FaceTime will commence its Asia-Pacific operations with three staff working from its Sydney office. The privately owned company has six customers in Australia, and a total of 12 in the Asia-Pacific.

Current FaceTime customers in Australia include DingoBlue, One.Tel's internet gambit One.Net, Hartley Poynton, and Travel.com.au.

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