Niche seen for SAR as retail hub

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:00am

Hong Kong will become the hub for electronic commerce in the Greater China region because of the greater freedom it enjoys in infrastructure building and applications development, according to MasterCard International.

Senior vice-president and general manager for Greater China Willie Fung said Hong Kong had traditionally been a shopping hub for both mainlanders and Taiwanese.

'The development of electronic commerce, or cyber-malls in more specific terms, will reinforce Hong Kong's role in this particular respect because shoppers will no longer need to be physically in the SAR before they can buy what they want,' he said.

Mr Fung pointed out Hong Kong had a relatively high level of freedom in building e-commerce infrastructure and developing applications.

He said no matter in what direction e-commerce developed, credit-card companies like MasterCard would have key role to play because the majority of transactions in cyberspace would be processed through their payment networks.

Mr Fung expected that in the next three years, the volume of payment transactions generated from sales via the Internet would approach 10 per cent of the total volume of transactions processed by the two top credit card companies in Hong Kong, MasterCard and Visa.

Mr Fung expected that a significant portion of access to the Internet, and hence e-commerce, would ultimately be transferred to the wireless platform.

He said this evolution would first happen in mobile handsets - in which more and more consumers will use WAP (Wireless Applications Protocol) handsets with Internet access functions.

'MasterCard is working on projects to enable itself to become a channel for WAP e-commerce,' Mr Fung said.