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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Online trading site Anakut to launch in July

Online trading site Anakut to launch in July

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP

First skyscraper underway

A boy walks past a model of the Gold Tower 42 high-rise being built on the corner of Monivong and Sihanouk boulevards in Phnom Penh. Cambodian officials broke ground on the country's first skyscraper on March 14, a 42-story tower that when completed will dwarf all other buildings in the low-rise capital. The $240-million high-rise, which will include a library and medical facilities along with luxury apartments, is backed by South Korea's Yon Woo company and is expected to be completed by 2011.

Inspired by eBay, a Cambodian

entrepreneur is planning to work with internet cafes in the capital to launch

a trading portal on line in July.

Creator

Ok Sothyvorn, 36, said to get around the limited number of wired computers in

Cambodian households, he plans to train staff at internet cafés to assist

customers using the new online auction website.

The new

site will be called Anakut, which means “the future.”

Like

eBay, the site will require sellers to include information about the item or

service being sold, and will charge the seller but not the buyer a service fee.

Sellers who give false information will be penalized.

Unlike

eBay, Anakut will offer more personalized service with a 24-hour call center

for customer assistance that will also vet sale information to ensure its

legitimacy. Agents will be sent to inspect big ticket sale offers.

Sothyvorn

said he envisioned real estate transactions flourishing on the site.

He said

that because credit cards are not common in Cambodia, the service will

introduce scratch cards for sellers to pay their fee to the website. The cards

will be sold at internet cafes and the Anakut office, Sothyvorn said.

Whereas

on eBay prices are negotiated through an online auction, Anakut will connect

buyers and sellers, leaving it to them to negotiate a price and then inform the

website once a sale has been finalized.

Sothyvorn

said he first had the idea to launch an online trading site seven years ago

when he came back from working in the IT sector in Canada.

Since

then he has been slowly mobilizing technical and financial support from a small

group of Cambodian and Canadian friends to make the venture possible.

Sothyvorn

said he recently left his job as an IT manager at ANZ bank to commit himself

fulltime to the project.

 

 

“The

idea is not something new. But it will make trading in Cambodia easier by

giving any seller the same venue as a big company and helping buyers find the

best price,” he said, adding that he hopes the site will change the face of

commercial transactions in a country where “most business is still done by

small, family-owned shops.”  

Sothyvorn

said Cambodia’s

slow and expensive internet is bound to undergo a major improvement within a

couple years.

Once his

office in Phnom Penh

is up and running, he said he plans to open branches in Siem Reap and

Sihanoukville.

He added

that Anakut might go public with the scheduled launch of the Cambodian Stock

Exchange in 2009.

When

eBay went public in 1998, three years after its debut, both its owners became

instant billionaires, a status Sothyvorn doesn’t anticipate having quite as

quickly.

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