Monday, July 6, 2009

Review a Local, Transactional E-Commerce Site.

The term 'transaction processing' in an ecommerce environment, is the process of an ecommerce or online shopping website accepting and processing a customer’s debit or credit card payment online and in real-time, in return for services or goods. Nowadays, there are several transactional e-commerce sites in Malaysia. One of the most famous transactional e-commerce sites is Golden Screen Cinema (GSC) which can find in

The website design is simple to understand and their layout are very attractive. There are many events about new movies which users can find it easily like new hot offer and events, movie now showing, movie show time, reservation for tickets, e-payment or even e-payment tutorial are provided for new users. Moreover, the website will provide users with all the cinema location maps.

The conveniences of GSC is to provide information for its about their favorite movie synopsis. What they have to do is just simply click on the movie name then the synopsis will pop up. Besides that, users can also know other details such as new movies release date, running time and directors of movies. Most of the movie fans like to know about the story of the movie that they watch. Sometimes, GSC also provide some promotion to its users such as buy one tickets free one tickets with some conditions and EON Bank Card-The Ultimate Movie Card cardholders can get up to 50% off ticket with purchase up to RM100.

Moreover, users can enjoy reservation or purchase of tickets on this website through e-ticketing. Through e-ticket, users no need to queue up for buying tickets especially on weekends. However, users have to register to become members of GSC in the first place. For each transaction, users only need to sign in by entering their ID and password, and then they can select the cinema, movie, date and show time and the method of payment. User can pay by e-payment. All Internet purchases are confirmed bookings and no refunds, exchanges or cancellations will be allowed even if the tickets are not collected. There will be a RM0.50 booking fee and RM1.00 for Gold Class charge at RM1.00 per ticket for each successful transaction. When make payment the screen will show the total charge, users only need to enter their user name, IC/Passport No., e-mail confirmation and payment modes.

However there are some limitations faces by users when using services provided by GSC. One of them is when users using e-payments service, their card personal information maybe stolen. Second, not everyone can purchase e-ticket unless they are registered GSC members. Third, when we want to purchase on the spot we can’t buy tickets online. Fourth, information published on the website maybe insufficient for users in booking for tickets.

Although there are some drawbacks of services provided by GSC, conveniences provided are still more than its drawbacks. So, hopefully services provided by GSC can be improved to attract more users to enjoy its services.

E-Goverment in Malaysia: Its Implementation so far and Citizen's Adoption Strategies.

Electronic Government is generally known as e-government. It refers to the use of information and communication technology for the purpose of improving government services, transactions and interactions and other aims of government with its citizens, business and industry.

In the year 1997, e-government initiative was launched as one of the seven flagships of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative in Malaysia by the former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir.

The 7 main pilot projects that identified as the core of the e-government application including:
1. Generic Office Environment (GOE)
2. Electronic Procurement (eP)
3. Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS)
4. Project Monitoring System (PMS)
5. Electronic Services Delivery (eServices)
6. Electronic Labor Exchange (ELX)
7. E-Syariah

E-government has provided a convenience environment for its users. They can access to the services anytime by their own personal computer. However, citizens are still not familiar with e-government. Users are still lack of knowledge on how to use e-government and IT, they are also worry about the security and privacy of their private information will be know by others. In order to encourage more citizens to use e-government, government can promote such services to its citizens through media devices such as TV, newspaper or radio to enable the user more comfortable with the service and understand the services more. Besides that, campaigns to educate people how to use the services should also be conduct to ensure that users can use its services easily. Moreover, the website should also developed in multiple languages such as Chinese, English, Tamil and especially national language (Malay) to facilitate different users. In addition, the website of e-government should also be well designed to meet users’ requirement.

Since e-government had implemented, citizen are encouraged to use and enjoy the service available.

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Corporate Blogging: A New Marketing Communication Tool for Companies

Nowadays, competitions among companies are becoming intense. To remain success in market, a firm must ensure that it always provide top quality of goods and services to its customers. One of the ways is to have a closer contact with its customers and it can be done through Corporate Blogging.

A corporate blog is published and used by a company in achieving its organizational goals. Basically, there are two types of corporate blog which are:

Internal Blog
- A blog which can be accessed by employees in a company through its intranet
- It helps to improve its communication and culture in a company

External Blog
- A publicly published blog where company employees, teams or spokesperson can access to it
- It deals with marketing, branding or public relations purposes

Uses of a corporate blog may include the followings:

1. Helps company to achieve its business goals
A company can publish its information such as its recent promotion or future project on its corporate blog and public are allowed to comment on its blog entries. Then, person-in-charge will respond to comments given. This may become a factor to retain existing customers and attract more new customers because they will feel that they are valuable when company respond to their comments or requirements. Hence, achieve its business goals which are increase profits and new market for products.

2. Extend company image in marketplace
Company can publish some attractive advertisement about its latest activities, products or services in their blogs. It may attract blog visitors’ attention on its recent news and build a deep impression in them.

3. Provide a two-way channel between employees and customers
To remain competitive, a company must always ensure that there is a good communication between employees and customers. Blogs can help company by establishing mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and corporation between a company and its customers through keep informed on and responsive to its customers’ interest.

An example in Malaysia would be the blog by Dato’ Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia. This blog provides a chance for the public to communicate with Dato’ and as well as updated news of AirAsia.

Besides that, AirAsia also provide a blog site where its customers to express their comments or share their experiences with AirAsia. With the effort in caring and satisfying customers, it can meet its goals established in setting corporate blog, achieve customers’ loyalty and hence its ultimate goal- increase of profits.

Although there are usefulness in corporate blogging, risks still exist and company has to take into consideration in creating a corporate blog. Examples of risks may consist of negative comments from its visitors, loss of control over messages and neglect in handling blog. Thus, companies have to avoid these risks in order to achieve its best possible result as a marketing communication tool.

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A Discussion on E-learning Offered in Malaysia Universities: Pros and Cons from the Students Perspective

Electronic learning (or E-learning) is a type of technology that used to support a learning process. Malaysian Universities have given the sense that they are committed to e-learning as a teaching method. Students are required to participate in an Online Forum using Learning Management System and discussed among each others and with their tutors on their subject matters or assignment. The commitment of Malaysian Universities has ensured that e-learning technologies have become a permanent feature of the tertiary sector in Malaysia.

There are some pros when using e-learning compared to traditional face-to-face courses and lectures. Students can learn at their own place, study at their convenience and get desired resources anywhere as long as they can access to a computer and Internet connection. It can also reduce travel time and costs for off-campus student and no additional travel costs to add to their family budget. Besides, e-learning also encourage more interaction among students and instructors than in large lecture rooms and students can have flexibility in joining discussions in the bulletin board threaded discussion areas at any hour, or visit with others and instructors distantly in chat rooms.

Although e-learning offer some advantages, it also provides some cons as well. Without routine structures of a traditional class, students may get lost or confused about course activities such as deadlines for their assignments. Besides, instructor may not always be available when their students are studying or need their helps. More important is that low motivation or bad study habits will fall behind students especially for students with beginner-level computer skills.

The pros and cons of e-learning vary depending on the main target group for whom the e-courses were designed in the first place. But it is unarguable that e-learning is rapidly growing as a form of training delivery and most are finding that clear benefits to e-learning will guarantee it in their overall learning strategy.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mobile Payment Systems in Malaysia: Its Potentials and Consumers' Adoption Strategies

Mobile Payment System is a new payment method where we can make payment using mobile devices (e.g. Cell phone) instead of with cash, credit cards or cheques. Mobile payments provide quite a number of advantages for its users such as:
1. Security - Two-factor authentication between merchant and buyers to prevent fraud.
2. Convenience - Consumers need not to hold huge amount of cash during shopping
3. Easy & Fast - Buyers only need to integrate their mobile phone to the device and transaction can be done in short time

In Malaysia, mobile payments are being used in various areas:
- Music, Videos, Online Games and other Digital Products
- Transportation Fares and Toll Fees
- Books, Magazines, Tickets and other Hard Goods
- Make payment for phone bills. e.g. Digi

One of the famous Mobile Payments applications in Malaysia is Mobile Money. It provides convenience to buyers where they can buy product online and make payment without having to present at a physical store. Registered users can pay for merchandises bought by only sending a 6-digit security PIN via SMS using a mobile phone.

Besides that, Visa payWave is another example that provides mobile payment services. Technology used is Near Field Communication (NFC), a short range wireless technology that allows communication between devices at close range. Users only need to get their mobile phone close to a tiny computer chip which sends payment information to a card reader via short-range radio frequency waves. The San Francisco Coffee outlet at KLCC is an example that uses Visa payWave.

Study showed that almost 88% of Malaysian populations are subscribing to mobile phone services but there is only 1.8% from them are subscribed for mobile banking and payment services. This result shows only small portion of Malaysian mobile phone users are being exploited to use of mobile payments. Thus, some strategies should be adopted to attract more users to mobile payment. For examples,

1. Educate Consumers about Usefulness and Functions of Mobile Payment
Merchants that provide mobile payment services can introduce method of using and its advantages to its customers via their official websites.

2. Enhance Security of Payments
Merchants can adopt certification program such as VeriSign to increase consumer’s confidence in securing their confidential information when making mobile payments.

3. Well Designed Payment Process
Mobile payment systems should be designed in an easy and simple model so that users are more willing to adopt mobile payments which are still new to them.

4. Collaborate with More Banks and Companies
This can help to enhance customers’ satisfaction when they are able to pay using mobile payment in a wider range of services.

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Electronic Currency

Electronic currency also known as electronic money, electronic cash, digital currency, digital money, or digital cash. It refers to money which is exchanged only electronically. Typically, this involves use of computer networks, the Internet and digital stored value systems. This is a system of debits and credits, used to exchange value, within another system, or itself as a stand alone system, online and offline. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and direct deposit are examples of electronic currency.

The online form of electronic cash allows for the completion of all types of Internet transactions. While offline form is a digitally encoded card that could be used for many of the same transactions. The primary function of electronic currency is to facilitate transactions on the Internet and its reality is slightly more complicated and makes transactions both secure and private. Electronic currency truly globalizes the economy as users can download money into their cyber-wallet in any currency desired. A merchant can accept any currency and convert it to local currency when the cyber cash is uploaded to the bank account.

An extraordinary success that took place in Hong Kong (Octopus Card), which started as a transit payment system and has grown into widely used electronic cash system. Deposits work of this Octopus Card is similar to banks’. After Octopus Card Limited receives money for deposit from users, the money is deposited into banks, which is similar to debit-card-issuing banks redepositing money at central banks.

Singapore also has an electronic currency implementation for its public transportation system (commuter trains, bus, etc), which is very similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus Card and based on the same type of card.

Digital coins are like travelers checks. It is also called “e-money” and “e-cash”, it is downloaded as “digital coins” from a participating bank into user’s computer, or an account is set up within the bank. Either the digital coins or the transactions that debit the account are transmitted to the merchant for payment. All the transactions are encrypted.

As conclusion, electronic currency combines the benefits of other transaction mediums and allows individuals to conduct transactions among each other.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Credit Card Debts: Causes and Prevention

In this new millennium, it is becoming less for consumers to pay for their expenses by cash. People now are mostly use credit cards to purchase clothes in their closets and to insert petrol for their cars. The unfortunate consequence of this shift in behavior is that credit card debt is become higher. Eliminating this type of debt can be difficult as many people are only able to pay a minimum monthly payment each month and the interest rates are extremely high. Under these conditions, it can take years to pay off even the smallest credit card balance. This is the general consensus of consumer groups on the alarming number of credit card users below the age of 30 who were blacklisted and later declared bankrupt due to credit card debts. So, it is better for us to take some prevention method on the credit card debts.

Causes of Credit Card Debts

1. Financial Illiteracy
May be you are not been taught in schools or your parents may not explained to you. It doesn't matter. You are responsible for your life and your money anyway. Financial mistakes are increasingly expensive and complicated to resolve. It is because many people don't understand how to save money and invest for a rainy day, or even why they should balance their checkbook.

2. Underemployment
You might deserve a break but actually it is not a good time. People who experienced under employment may continue to think of it as only temporary or if they are coming off unemployment feel a false sense of relief.
Get those expenses in line with your current income. Down the road if you increase your income due to more hours, a better job, or a second job, then it is the time to start adding in some of the previous spending before you become underemployed.

3. Banking and Windfall
Spending tomorrow's money today is very attractive. Especially if you believe that tomorrow the money will come no matter what. A planned job bonus may not be a confirm thing. The inheritance that you believe will come your way may not. The lesson is don’t spend the money until the check clears.

4. Poor Money Management
You may spending hundred of dollars for unnecessary thing for each month.A monthly spending plan is essential. Without one you have no idea where your money is going. Planning is no more difficult, it is just writing down your expenses and income and reconciling the two. You will be surprised at how powerful you'll feel when you are making thoughtful decisions about when and where to spend your money.

5. Medical Expenses
Gaps in coverage, lapsed policies and increasingly costly alternatives make this a popular category. If you think a credit card is very convenient, think again. The medical industry wants to get paid at the time service is rendered. They know that if they don’t, the chances of their getting paid drops. This means more debt for you, less for them.

Prevention of Credit Card Debts

1. Credit Counseling and Debt Settlement
This helps clients by educating them in ways to get out of debt and stay that way, but approaches are significantly different. The objective of credit counseling is to pay off debts in full by negotiating lower interest rates, while debt settlement companies pay off debts faster by negotiating reductions in amounts owed.

2. Choose a Credit Card which Offer the Lowest Interest Rate
Photocopy the credit card offer, including the interest rate and terms. Create a letter to your credit card companies stating that you are thinking of switching to their competitor because they are offering a far more reasonable interest rate. Credit card companies do not want to lose your business. Therefore, they will try to offer you a more desirable interest rate.

3. Manage Your Finances
Starting with a strategy will help keep you on track before you ever even pull out the credit card. Determining your monthly income and needed expenses. As part of these monthly expenses, figure in 5-10% of your income to set aside for emergencies, long range savings such as a retirement account, and short term savings. If you have some savings then you can avoid from putting large amounts of debt on a credit card in times of a crisis.

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The Application of Pre-Paid Cash Card for Consumers

Prepaid cash card is similar to debit card, with a card number, signature and company branding. It enables holder to purchase and make payment using an amount preloaded by the holder or someone else. However, it is not like debit card services which links to a bank account with an overdraft facility. Prepaid cash card users are only allowed to use the credit preloaded by them.

It is convenience to keep and use. Users can use it as a substitute for cheques and cash. For example, if prepaid cash card is a MasterCard, VISA or Maestro card, users can use it to make purchases anywhere around the world where those cards are accepted and it is more secure as it can be blocked if it’s lost or stolen.

Users are allowed to use prepaid cash card to buy things at shops, or for telephone shopping, mail order shopping or Internet shopping. Moreover, there are some other prepaid cards such as Touch ‘n Go (TnG) smart card. Users of TnG can use their preloaded cards to pay for highway tolls, Light Rail Transit(LRT) or bus tickets and even car park fees.

Next, Octopus card used in Hong Kong is also one of the examples of prepaid cash cards. This is a smart card that used to transfer electronic payment in online or offline systems. Users can use it for public transport in Hong Kong, payment at supermarkets, convenience stores, on-street parking meters, car parks, fast-food restaurant, and other point-of-sale.

Users of prepaid cards are free from debts as they have no chance to spend exceeding the preloaded amount. This is different from credit cards which require repayments after purchases. Debts are easy to create as credit card users can exceed budget easily.

Besides that, there is no interest charged onprepaid cash cards and it is easy to apply because no credits check is needed. It helps users to control and limit their money spending. They can only spend with the money that is loaded onto the card and spending can be checked via the Internet.

Prepaid cash cards have brought many benefits. People should be encouraged to utilize it in making their purchase transactions.

(Master Card and VISA Card)

(Touch 'n Go Card)

(Octopus Card)