Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 April, 2010, 12:00am

New business platform for world's oldest profession

E-commerce has undeniably revolutionised the world of business and will continue to change the way we make purchases.

Even prostitutes are taking advantage of this new channel to ply their trade, running a rather successful e-commerce business. We hear one of these business 'platforms' is even seeking to hire a regional agent to help expand and diversify trade.

It's no longer just about pushing sales volume; many of them provide after-sales services such as discussion boards and online forums to get customer feedback.

It's so true that client relationship management is critical to all businesses, regardless of size and type.

How to become a millionaire

Lai See thinks US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has got it all wrong. He recently said that despite huge government efforts to restore lending to normal, borrowing costs remained high and credit was still not flowing normally.

That's definitely not the case in Hong Kong.

Lai See gets three to four phone calls a day from banks and finance companies, willing to give out loans. In some cases, the loan amounts can go up to 18 times monthly salary.

If it hadn't been such a hectic day at work yesterday, Lai See would have secured multiple loans and become a millionaire.

We can do better next time: borrow billions because then we would be 'too big to fail'.

Van Praag prattle

Someone on Twitter is posing as the 'Fake Lucas van Praag', a parody of Goldman Sachs' colourful public relations chief and possibly the world's highest paid spokesman (

The acid-tongued van Praag finally gets a taste of his own medicine by being ridiculed by bloggers, who shine the spotlight brightly on the embattled executive.

Some of the tweets are absolutely hilarious.

'I'm starting to lose track of all our alleged crimes. Maybe one of the interns can make me a spreadsheet.

'Did you see? Citi made a surprise profit! And Jamie Dimon is a sex god. Now stop paying attention to us. Go. Shoo!'

Or how about: 'Now that we've won against the government, I feel so lost.'

Fund time

A survey has found that more than half of employees 'couldn't care less' about their mandatory provident fund investments.

According to the Fidelity study, the majority seems to adopt an indifferent attitude when it comes to managing their MPF and do not spend enough time in administering their MPF assets.

But can we blame them? First, it was the high MPF management fees that eroded their accrued benefits, now it's the ripple effect from the global financial crisis. The way things are going, they might end up owing fund managers money when it comes to retirement.

Big Mac index

A reader, who has been following the minimum wage issue, says former legislator Albert Cheng King-hon's wonton noodle theory is a unique way to assess what is an acceptable level. In short, Cheng believes if you can't afford a bowl of noodles with your hourly wages, that means you can't survive in Hong Kong.

The reader uses another culinary yardstick: 'The proposed minimum wage of HK$24 put forward by the business sector isn't even enough to buy an Extra Value Meal at McDonald's.'

He says a minimum hourly wage of HK$33 as suggested by labour unions, which is only about US$4.25, was the minimum pay in the United States in the first half of the 1990s.

This makes Asia's world city sound more and more like one big sweatshop.

Banking zones

When HSBC announced that it would set up dedicated zones to serve customers from the mainland and Taiwan, we thought it was due to political sensitivity over their bilateral relations.

But we have been assured that it's a business decision. The bank has set up exclusive sections in selected branches to cater primarily for new and existing customers visiting from the mainland and Taiwan.

There will be special lounge areas as well as private meeting rooms for them. We also hear bank staff will supply these VIPs with tourist information if necessary. It's a pretty savvy business move.

Francesca McDonagh, the head of personal financial services, explained: 'We are conscious that in 2009, there were close to 18 million mainland Chinese and 2 million Taiwanese visitors in Hong Kong ... we hope to provide a more conducive and welcoming place for them to manage their transactions and discuss how we can help them capture global wealth opportunities.'