Multi-currency service cheers e-tailers

Kiwi online exporters are hoping for Christmas cheer from the Bank of New Zealand's new multi-currency platform.

Kiwi online exporters are hoping for Christmas cheer from the Bank of New Zealand's new multi-currency platform.

At least 30 firms, including well-known companies, are said to be trying out CurrencySelect. The system, which will be launched by year-end, lets e-tailers post prices and process transactions in up to 12 currencies, including the US, Australian, UK and Japanese, and the Euro. Mail and telephone order firms can also use it.

Backers say many e-commerce firms lose business when overseas customers see a price in a currency they are unfamiliar with.

Using the system, customers shop in their local currency and know the exact price. The settlement between BNZ and the e-tailer merchant and between Mastercard/Visa remains in New Zealand dollars, with BNZ converting the cardholder's original foreign currency transaction and settling with the merchant by the next business day.

BNZ developed CurrencySelect with Auckland-based Advantage Group. Other partners include website hosting firm 2Day.com and Wellington e-commerce "gateway" Banqonit, a division of Net Logic.

Auckland's 2Day.com uses CurrencySelect itself and is offering it to clients linking its server to that of the BNZ.

2Day.com head Peter Mott says Regency Duty Free stores plan to use the system, along with other well-known outlets. "We hope it will help merchants make a buck for Christmas," Mott says.

Aucklander David Slack of Speeches.com finds 90% of his speechwriting business is conducted overseas. He went live with the system at the e-commerce summit three weeks ago.

"It's excellent. I give it 10-out-of-10. It's so much more straightforward for the customer to see things priced in the currency they trade in. This is just perfect," he says.

CurrencySelect has been under development for two months and uses an Informix database on a Unix platform.

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