Global express and logistics provider TNT is currently rolling out a demand chain management system in Europe that will be introduced in Asia in the third or fourth quarter of the year. This system is an IT platform which provides customers with various products, including a global payment service designed to overcome customers' reluctance to submit credit card numbers over the Internet. 'In Asia, customers don't want to give their credit card numbers over the Internet or they just don't own credit cards,' TNT Express Worldwide (HK) director of corporate accounts, Hans Olijve, said. Under the modular integrated global payment system, customers just have to pay by way of a bank draft or cheque to a TNT account at a bank. Within 24 hours of payment confirmation, goods will be shipped to the customer, depending on the destination. However, if a customer uses on-line processing, it merely takes two to three hours for confirmation. That information is automatically updated in TNT's central banking system in Holland, following which goods are immediately despatched to customers. Under the global payment system, TNT collects money for purchases on behalf of its customers and acts like a bank before transferring the money to a supplier's bank account. 'The big advantage we offer is we can collect money through bank drafts and cheques, and not many companies can do that,' Mr Olijve said. Through a deduction system customers can choose to use the full system or only part of it. 'Within demand chain man agement the key is not physical flow of goods but the control of information,' Mr Olijve said. He added that when information was controlled, all elements of the system could be controlled. Company warehouses and inventory systems can be linked to TNT which, in turn, can use the global payment system. Mr Olijve said companies realised that if they had a controllable supply chain, it would enable them to have a competitive advantage. TNT was working with various companies, looking at their supply chain, fine tuning their inventory holding and pipeline inventory, he said. 'Whenever we talk with customers, we look at their processes. And it can take between eight and 12 weeks before we can finalise the process,' Mr Olijve said. 'We have business teams with logistics and IT backgrounds who can tap into customer issues.' He added that those kind of functions needed multi-task force and multi-country experience. The backbone of TNT, whose head office is in Europe, is large European customers whose affiliates were located in Asia. These customers were looking at Asia for improvement, Mr Olijve said, adding that this was why TNT worked with its colleagues to see what they could do about it. 'I think what is happening is we advise them on how business can be run, that is, the logistics end of the business,' he said. Recently, TNT made arrangements with large manufacturers about their operational manufacturing in mainland China. Their goods are being consolidated at one point in Europe and sent to the mainland. The company plans to open more new branches in the mainland next year. TNT, which is Europe's market leader in global express distribution, logistics and international mail, is a subsidiary of TNT Post Group that is a publicly-listed company on the Amsterdam, New York, London and Frankfurt stock exchanges. Headquartered in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, TNT Post Group has a long history in the Asia- Pacific region.