Hong Kong buyers and sellers now have an alternative to haggling on the street or to placing classified advertising and hoping for the best, with the launch of at least half a dozen on-line auction Web sites aimed at SAR residents. Among the newest are AuctionHK.com and ClubCiti.com.hk. Among the most successful may be go2hk.com and cyberbid.net which claims 1,500 registered users since launching in June. Computer equipment, mobile phones and other electronic goods seem to be some of the most popular items for listing and bidding. Probably unique to Hong Kong auction sites is the offering of lucky mobile phone numbers. Traffic at most of the sites, though, is still slim enough to make visitors feel that they have accidentally stumbled onto the on-line equivalent of a suburban United States weekend garage sale, rather than into something more like the bustling heart of a Kowloon-side street market. One possible reason is that on-line auctions are relatively new in Hong Kong, compared with category-killer US-based eBay, which has been around since 1995 and at any given moment has almost 2.5 million items for sale. By contrast local site go2hk.com, had only 990 items for sale yesterday, brisk trade compared with the handful of items to be found on some Hong Kong sites. Though companies such as ClubCiti.com, which also plans to launch similar sites on the mainland and in Taiwan, are betting that on-line consumer-to-consumer auctions will catch on in Asia, sceptics like venture capitalist Hanson Cheah think otherwise. 'The reason is very simple,' Mr Cheah said. 'How are you going to resolve the trust issue and the fraud issue?' The sites are for the most part set up to be self-policing, with users encouraged to send in reviews of their trading partners, which are then made available to everyone considering transactions with those who have been reviewed. Aside from providing an on-line meeting place, helping the buyers and sellers review each other and allowing them to get in touch via anonymous e-mail, however, such auction sites do not get involved in the transactions. Buyer and seller have to make their own arrangements for payment and shipment. To make money, auctioneers charge money from customers wanting to list their products as well as fees for successful sales. ClubCiti, for instance, charges $15 to $20 for initial listings, and a cut of between 2.5 to 5 per cent on successful sales. The more promising possibility for on-line auctions, Mr Cheah said, is the type of business-to-consumer auction that would allow companies to sell distressed inventory - that is, hotel rooms, airline seats or any other merchandise that they would have to take losses on if they go unsold.