November 23, 2004 (STAR) By Alma Buelva - This week’s launch of eBay Phils., a new localized website for the popular global online marketplace, is expected to boost Filipinos’ participation in online commerce.

eBay, an online company born at the height of the dot-com fever and a true survivor of that era, opens its online trading platform in the Philippines, seeing that thousands of Filipinos are already part of its 125 million users from around the world.

But it’s only a virtual presence as eBay Philippines. (www.ebay.ph) will be managed off Singapore and without any employees here. Frederic de Bure, managing director of eBay Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, said they created eBay.ph based on the requests of "thousands of Filipino members who are actually residing in the Philippines."

"Through eBay’s local website, the company can better serve its members in the country, provide greater opportunity for local buyers and sellers to come together, build new local trading communities, and help expand the country’s e-commerce," he said.

"The launch of eBay Phils. brings our successful online marketplace to a growing Internet market in Asia," said Bill Cobb, senior vice president of eBay International. "eBay’s global community already includes thousands of members in the Philippines, and we are happy to provide them with their own dedicated website."

eBay.ph allows members to buy and sell items using the Philippine peso. There are over 50,000 product categories on eBay. De Bure said it’s not rocket science to use the site with its simple format that lets users quickly and easily learn the eBay way of trading.

He said eBay, for the time being, is not interested in charging individuals and small businesses from the Philippines when they list and sell their items on eBay.ph.

It’s important to note though that eBay.ph, at this point, has no clear-cut design or policy on payment settlement for buyers and sellers here. "We want our Filipino users to tell us what payment mechanisms they want. They should figure out how they want to pay each other and tell us," said De Bure.

"I’d love to have PayPal here in the Philippines, but it’s subject to regulatory issues and that’s the reason it’s not here yet. But members here who have PayPal accounts can use them as long as they find a way to draw funds from those accounts. We’re not perfect, we learn as we go," De Bure added.

PayPal, an eBay company, enables any individual or business with an e-mail address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive payments online. PayPal’s service builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards and utilizes an advanced proprietary fraud prevention system to create a safe, global, real-time payment solution.

Local Players

Seeing itself as a local player now but with a global brand, eBay, De Bure claimed, is already the third largest visited online site in the Philippines after MyAyala.com and Amazon.com.

"Our advantages are our 125 million members worldwide and our strong brand that needs no advertising and our strategy will be to let our local sites grow organically," he said.

But Filipino companies with online platforms for auctions like BidShot Wireless Services say they are unfazed by the coming of eBay. BidShot, which offers Filipino buyers and sellers an auction platform using the Internet and mobile phones, is confident about its niche services.

"We are actually happy and we welcome the competition because by inviting people with resources we are able to list the entire industry of buying, selling or trading through the Internet. We hope with eBay sowing resources here, we will be able to get more users attracted to the concept of trading in a highly interactive medium," said Dennis Mendiola, CEO of Chikka Asia Inc., an affiliate of BidShot.

Claiming to have a 90 percent market share, BidShot targets people with limited Internet access but have mobile phones as a means of getting connected. In addition, BidShot’s customers are those with limited access to electronic payments such as credit cards but have mobile phones

"eBay is attracting traders who are very much connected to the Internet and who already have an electronic means of paying for items usually using credit cards or PayPal, while we will continue to focus on the use of mobile phones. BidShot is more person to person. Our numbers are not in the thousands, but in the millions of active mobile phone users who may not be logging a lot because they access the Internet through cafés and not trading a lot in an eBay format because they have no credits cards and means to deliver goods," Mendiola said.

Chikka is a provider of mobile messaging services and the first in the world to have a mobile instant messaging (IM) solution called the Chikka TXT Messenger.

Mendiola hinted that soon they will address one of the other flaws that makes interactive trading on the Internet very difficult in the Philippines. "Soon we will have greater connectivity, more seamlessness between our auction site and classifieds on mobile phones... The next phase of BidShot is beyond chat," he said.

In addition, Mendiola said they are working on new m-commerce solutions like GCash from Globe by applying Chikka’s own patented technology platform for payments.

"Finally, what we will just address is the issue of physical distribution of goods. Like eBay, we have invested tremendous resources in creating a community and a proprietary platform to integrate our services... I would like to show the world that Filipino creativity and ingenuity has a chance even against the best and the brightest in the world. So (to eBay), welcome to Chikka coun-try," he said.

About eBay.com

• eBay operates in 30 countries.

• Thirty-four million items are available on eBay’s site at any given time.

• eBay members claim that 99.999 percent of transactions occur without fraud.

• Germany is eBay’s biggest market outside the United States.

• On an average day around the world, eBay sells a television set every minute, a T-shirt every 10 seconds in China, a mobile phone every 30 minutes in Taiwan, a wristwatch every five minutes in Hong Kong, and a video game every 12 minutes in Singapore.

• eBay is now the No. 1 car dealer in the US.

• eBay’s net revenues totaled $805.9 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2004.

• Forty-six percent of eBay’s transaction revenues, excluding payments, now come from its international operations.

• On an annual basis, eBay users worldwide now trade more than $1,060 worth of goods on the site every second.

• In Q304 GMV, the value of all successfully closed listings on eBay worldwide was $8.3 billion.

• Based on Q304 GMV, eBay has 12 categories that delivered $1 billion or more in worldwide GMV on an annual basis: eBay Motors, $10.7 billion; consumer electronics, $2.5 billion; computers, $2.5 billion; clothing and accessories, $4.4 billion; books, movies and music, $2.2 billion; collectibles, $1.8 billion; home and garden, $1.7 billion; sports, $1.6 billion; toys, $1.3 billion; jewelry and watches, $1.2 billion; cameras and photo, $1.1 billion; and business and industrial, $1.1 billion.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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