The first annual Offshore E-Commerce Conference gathers at New York City’s Millennium Center today for a three-day event that will explore the benefits of establishing e-commerce ventures or payment solutions offshore.
Co-sponsored by First Atlantic Commerce Ltd., a Hamilton, Bermuda-based developer and provider of e-commerce payment solutions, the conference is expected to attract over 200 industry professionals from the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Canada, the Caribbean region and other European countries.
It is the first known international conference to focus upon offshore e-commerce. Sponsors say that the event is sold out and that another is being planned for 2000.
The agenda is a composite card of some of the complex issues facing the offshore e-commerce industry: Payment issues, international tax issues, choosing the right offshore jurisdiction, business and risk liabilities and many more thorny areas that are subject to change at a rapid rate in a rapidly-evolving industry.
Industry participants object to the perception that the offshore industry is simply a legitimized tax haven.
A Safe Haven From Regulators
Andrea Wilson, First Atlantic Commerce VP and Director of Electronic Commerce, told the E-Commerce Times that she believes the offshore industry will grow by leaps and bounds as regulators in the U.S. and Europe impose stringent restrictions on e-commerce.
“Offshore e-commerce will see exponential growth in the next few years,” Wilson said, “especially in jurisdictions like Bermuda, where the government and local industry have taken an aggressive posture in ensuring that e-commerce is at the forefront of an economic boom.”
The Bermudan Government recently passed legislation that offers protection of customer data over the Internet and allows the use of segregated accounts for Internet-based companies. The recent provision was called the First Atlantic Commerce Electronic Commerce Act. It was named after Wilson’s company, which petitioned for the provisions. The measure followed the passing of the Electronic Transactions Act by the government in July.
Bermuda also recognizes electronic records as legally binding and considers a digital signature to be the equivalent of a handwritten one. In effect, the Bermudan government has laid the groundwork for companies like First Atlantic to lure prospective clients to run their international payment solutions through Bermuda.
Wilson says that Singapore, Ireland and some Caribbean countries with extensive offshore banking networks offer some competition to Bermuda, but none have a comparable regulatory and business environment. Additionally, Bermuda offers proximity to both the U.S and Europe, and has the necessary technical infrastructure.