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Fresh food e-auctions will cross borders in Europe

August 23, 1999
Web posted at: 10:32 a.m. EDT (1432 GMT)

by Dorte Toft

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IDG.net
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(IDG) -- Toronto-based e-Auction Global Trading has announced portal software for business-to-business auctions of fresh food and flowers across country borders in Europe and the rest of the world.

The new product, EuroNet Trading Portals, provides the tools for linking auction networks together, for payment confirmation across borders and for handling foreign currency exchange.

"We are not changing the steps in auctions, but packaging the steps together. The buyer can, for example, pay in U.S. dollars even at a Dutch flower auction, which eliminates the need for a bank visit," said David Hackett, chief financial officer of e-Auction Global Trading.

Currently, the European auction networks are not linked due to the uncertainty of international financial settlement, according to Hackett.
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The first e-Auction customer is the Belgium-based company Schelfhout Computer Systemen (SCS), the largest provider of auction software for the perishable-goods market in Europe, according to a company official. The European SCS-members conduct trade for approximately US$7 billion a year.

Once SCS has launched in Europe, the company will market the portal software to members in South America, Australia, India, China and Morocco, according to the written statement from e-Auction.

Eventually e-Auction, which operates in Toronto, New York, London and Barbados, will also provide SCS with software handling evaluation of credit worthiness across borders.

The initial focus is on Europe because the classic colonial trading route still rules, according to e-Auction's Hackett. Goods were sent to Europe, and even today growers in, for example, South America will ship cut flowers to Europe for auctioning.

"The European auction houses are the old trusted representative between buyers and sellers," he said, adding that when Internet-based auctions catch on across borders, flowers will most likely not be cut until they are sold, and then they will be sent directly to the buyer. That will mean that buyers get fresher flowers and sellers reduce waste because flowers will be transported only once.

Dorte Toft writes for the IDG News Service in Boston.


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