Web steel exchange marks Asian first

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 November, 1999, 12:00am

More than 20 international steel traders - including locally listed Van Shung Chong - have set up Asia's first vertical steel exchange Web site to lower transaction costs.

Scheduled to be launched next month, the first phase of iSteel Asia.com will provide electronic-product catalogues, on-line procurement and surplus-stock auctioning, as well as multi-lingual real-time steel industry news by Reuters.

The founders intend to form partnerships with financial institutions to provide on-line payment and insurance services, with legally binding on-line transactions targeted to take place by the second quarter of next year.

'By centralising and automating the buying and selling processes over the Internet, on-line transactions will expand the potential number of matches and promote market transparency,' said Leroy Kung, managing director of iMerchants, the site's builder.

He said the site aimed to provide on-line shipping and supply-chain management consulting services by linking up with logistics and consulting companies.

The steel trading industry, which still relied heavily on paper-based communications, could see cost savings of more than 10 per cent by adopting e-commerce, he added.

Andrew Yao Cho-fai, chairman of Van Shung Chong, said Asia accounted for about 45 per cent of global steel consumption, worth more than US$300 million annually.

ISteelAsia.com, whose initial investment amounted to about HK$10 million, aims to capture 2 per cent of the Asian steel consumption market by next year, and 10 per cent by 2002.

Charging a commission of less than 1 per cent per transaction, the site is targeting to be profitable by 2001.