Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 10 News List

E-commerce hailed as key to future

CATCHING UP The government has been developing the infrastructure for e-business, which it hopes will encourage firms to set up their operating bases here

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

It used to take around 15 days for Hua Nan Commercial Bank (華南銀行) to complete the transaction when customers went to the bank to pay a phone bill. In fact, it still takes 15 days if customers want to do it the old-fashioned way.

But ever since the state-run bank implemented its electronic business (e-business) system three years ago, customers who pay their bills online can complete the transaction in just one day.

"The biggest benefit of applying an e-business system is saving our costs and time," said Hsu Ber-lin (許柏林), chief of the e-commerce division at Hua Nan Bank.

"With more and more customers making use of our online banking system, we save a lot of resources, especially personnel costs," Hsu said at a press conference yesterday.

To date, more than 210,000 customers have used Hua Nan's online banking system. Every month, approximately NT$25 billion in transactions are completed via the system, he said.

Hua Nan is one of some 100 exhibitors from 11 Asian countries that will man 300 booths to demonstrate their e-business achievements at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall II, beginning today through Saturday.

The fair, "2003 eASIA Week," is by far the largest trade show for e-business applications in the Asia Pacific region, the event's organizers said yesterday.

In addition to providing solutions for companies intending to adopt an e-business model, promoters say the event is also a platform for cross-border cooperation.

The government is keen to promote electronic business and use it to transform the nation into an "e-Hub" in the Asian Pacific region, a government official said.

"If Taiwan becomes a hub for e-business in Asia, Taiwan will be five to 10 years ahead of other countries in the region in attracting foreign investment and orders," said Gary Gong (龔仁文), general director of the Taiwan Institute for Information Industries

"We hope by improving e-business infrastructure, local companies will be more willing to set up their operating headquarters in this country, while moving their manufacturing sector overseas," Gong said.

Although e-business in the private sector is still lagging behind advanced countries, Gong said he believes the sector will soon catch up.

"The government has been trying to encourage private companies to adopt an e-business model for years, but found the key to driving the improvement is their clients, who are conducting business by electronic means," Gong said.

Taiwan's government has been working hard to build up the e-business infrastructure. As a result, the public is now able to do a lot of paper work online, -- including the filing of tax reports, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) said at the opening of the trade show.

According to the latest issue of Internet Readiness published in February by the World Economic Forum, Taiwan's government is rated highly -- second only to Singapore -- in terms of overall performance in e-readiness.

"E-commerce is no doubt the most powerful tool for the public and private sectors to enhance efficiency and competitiveness," Shih said.

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