Singapore mission opens IT opportunities

Financial portal E-Loan is in discussions with several Singaporean parties keen to take on a local licence after it and five other IT companies went on an investment mission to Singapore.

Financial portal E-Loan is in discussions with several Singaporean parties keen to take on a local licence after it and five other IT companies went on an investment mission to Singapore.

Led by TradeNZ’s investment arm, E-Loan travelled with Genie Systems, Lignus Corporation, E-Ges, QPod Systems and TimeDisciple, several of which are now involved in various follow-on negotiations.

TradeNZ hopes four of them will have secured investment, distribution deals or partnerships in Singapore, dubbed the next big IT frontier, within three to six months.

The mission to the Southeast Asian Investment Series is now likely to become an annual event.

E-Loan New Zealand IT manager Kieren Cooney says E-Loan holds licences for New Zealand, Australia and several key areas in Asia.

E-Loan wrote the code for the back office here and may export that technology and New Zealand staff for any operations set up in Asia, Cooney says. Options being assessed include transplanting the back end system, hosting it, creating an online hub or sharing resources over the internet.

The first E-Loan product launched in Singapore would be home loans.

E-Loan is 50% owned by eVentures, which has scrapped plans to set up further business units in New Zealand, and 50% by US-based E-Loan Inc.

Procurement software company Genie System’s finance chief financial, Craig Brown, says he went to explore further market opportunities for Genie’s product after it secured a deal with Singapore-based Keppel Group, and also to network with government bodies.

WAP-based financial applications company E-Ges went looking for venture capital and is to set up an office there in the first half of next year, says managing director Manju Fernando. Singapore is now the most likely Asian exchange if E-Ges eventually decides to list, he says.

Paul Bosher, managing director of Q-Pod, a company producing pallet-sized refrigeration systems, says he went looking for “capital and capability” to help set up commercial operations in New Zealand.

TradeNZ’s Scott Waterfield says Singapore is a key IT area because it is seen as the springboard to Asia – its history, culture and legal system are seen as making it easier to do business in first off. Singapore has also shown support for the high-tech sector, stating its aim to be an e-commerce hub and by giving small businesses $60,000 each to get online.

The free trade agreement between Singapore and New Zealand also includes a provision where testing of high-tech goods counts as part of the manufacturing process. One of the pact's conditions allows each country duty-free access to goods that contain at least 40% ex-factory local content.

Waterfield says the Singapore stock exchange is technology-weighted and holds much opportunity.

“New Zealanders see the US as a big step; Singapore may well be the stepping stone.”

See also Exo-net doesn't look back

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