Report: Asian E-Commerce Emerging Slowly

Asian Internet users are taking to e-commerce much slower thantheir American counterparts, according to a report released Monday by research firmNetValue.

The report, which analyzed the markets of Hong Kong, China, Korea,Singapore and Taiwan, found that between 58 and 63 percent of Asian Internet userslogged onto e-tail sites, as compared to nearly three-quarters ofAmerican Internet users.

“Looking at it from a global perspective, the Asia Pacific market isconsidered to be a newcomer in Internet usage,” said NetValue sales andmarketing vice president Clayton Fitts. “Asian users don’t appear to be asreceptive to purchasing online as users in the West.”

Other Technological Strides

Notably, NetValue found that users in Hong Kong and Korea spend an average 12 days per month on the Web, which surpasses the averages in the United States of 11 days per month.

“Web usage only accounts for half of all Internet activity,” said NetValuepresident Darlene Lee. Lee noted that the other half consists of suchbehavior as chatting, file transfers, sending e-mail and gaming.

For instance, Korea has experienced rapid penetration in its online audioand video usage, with three times as many users downloading or streamingmultimedia files as those in the United States.

Researchers attribute this surge to the extensive inroads made bybroadband in Korea. More than a third of the country’s Internet users havehigh-speed access, eclipsing the U.S. figure of 6 percent.

“The advanced usage of audio/video in Korea is a good indicator for thosemoving into the broadband content and advertising realm,” said Fitts. “Herewe’re seeing a glimpse of the future for the Asia-Pacific market.”

Obstacles to Growth

Although the NetValue study did not offer possible reasons why AsianInternet users have not been as receptive to e-commerce as other worldwidemarkets, other recent reports cite some of the barriers to growth. A study released last month by Cheskin Research and Chinadotcom Corporationconcluded that e-tailers will need to decipher the regional differencesamong the Chinese population in order to succeed the region.

Additionally, China has implemented strict new Internet regulations that curb oversees investments into Chinese dot-coms and require Internet companies to keep records on visitors and Web content.

Chinese e-commerce is also hindered by the lack of convenientpayment methods for consumers because of the low number of mainland residents who hold credit cards, the standard mode of conducting online transactions.

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