Trader claims NZ businesses eager to barter for PCs

The New Zealand PC market is littered with the casualties of cut-throat competition, but according to an Australian trader, there's plenty of business to be had by a local PC assembler willing to barter with buyers.

An Australian trader is looking for a computer wholesaler to assemble computer clones for bartering in New Zealand.

Stephen Roach, a freelance trader, already has a New Zealand order of at least 20 computers to fill through Bartercard, a system for businesses to trade goods and services using currency called “trade dollars” rather than cash.

Auckland-based Bartercard trade co-ordinator Denis Cook says there are about 500 small-to-medium-sized Auckland businesses using the Bartercard system and about 2500 nationwide. He estimates at least 10% of these businesses would be interested in buying computers through Bartercard but says it has been hard to obtain computers through the system.

Roach was asked by the international Bartercard trade co-ordinator in Australia to supply computers to the New Zealand Bartercard market. He has already been supplying computers in the Australian market for the past three years.

Because of the cost of freight from Australia to New Zealand, the value of the New Zealand dollar and the need to have a local warranty, Roach is looking to get clones made in New Zealand rather than shipping them from Australia. He says he will pay in cash, but will then sell the computers on through the Bartercard system using trade dollars.

He is wanting computers with a 120MHz or 133MHz Pentium processor, with 16Mb of RAM, 1.3Gb or 1.8Gb on the hard drive, a CD-ROM, Windows 95 and a 14in monitor. They must also have a two-year warranty. Roach believes there is huge potential for computers in the Bartercard market, where people are already buying everything from sandwiches to real estate.

“Getting the orders [for computers] is the easy part. They’re a hot item--everybody wants them.”

“If someone can supply the computers from the cash economy into the Bartercard network, we’re in business,” says Cook. “In terms of demand, it’s pretty much unlimited.”

Cook says the type of transactions that take place in the cash economy also take place under the Bartercard system.

The Bartercard system acts as third-party record-keeper, with trade dollars used to monitor the value of each transaction. Its supporters say it introduces flexibility by overcoming the need to trade directly with the business that wishes to trade with you.

Bartercard’s Web page says the system is fully approved by the Inland Revenue Department in New Zealand. IRD spokesman Alan Groves says IRD has not approved the system as such, but does not have a problem with it as long as people still pay tax. Income is defined as money or money’s worth, he says.

The Consumers’ Institute’s David Russell says the system is legal, and his only warning is that people ensure they get fair value in return for their effort.

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