Interview with Steven Liew, senior director and legal counsel for eBay Asia Pacific

April 28, 2010

eBay buyers and sellers are driving Internet commerce across the globe, including Southeast Asia. Steven Liew, senior director and legal counsel for eBay Asia Pacific Government Relations, recently sat down with Thailand’s Make Money magazine to talk about the state of e-commerce during challenging economic times.  In addition, they discussed how eBay is combating the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online and why eBay’s global platforms are so important to Thai businesses and individuals.

[Make Money Magazine, Thailand]

How do you see the current state of e-commerce business and trends going forward?

[Steven Liew, senior director and legal counsel for eBay Asia Pacific]

During these challenging economic times, consumers are more cost-conscious and look for great deals on the internet without having to pay full retail prices.  We see continuing growth in consumers going online to make their purchases. The long-term growth of e-commerce is being driven by enhanced safety, reliability, and the ease-of-use of online payment systems, particularly for high volume, cross-border transactions.  The fact that an e-business requires minimal investment to set up – only a computer and Internet connection – also encourages an increasing number of entrepreneurs (supply) to set up online businesses and reach out to the global market, thereby increasing the amount and variety of goods available online for buyers to choose from.

What kind of items do eBay sellers in Southeast Asia sell on eBay?

The top 5 product categories for sellers in Southeast Asia are Jewellery, Gems and Watches, Clothing and Accessories, Books, Auto-parts and Collectibles.  Currently Thai users are among the most active – on any given day, a Thai eBay member sells an item of jewelry or a watch every 27 seconds and an article of clothing every 56 seconds to buyers all over the world.  

Some countries in SEA are quite notorious for selling pirated goods in brick-and-mortar stores. What is eBay’s stand and how does it fight counterfeit goods?

eBay doesn’t like counterfeits any more than brands and buyers do. They are bad for our business and they create a bad experience for our buyers. They are illegal and we do not tolerate them on the eBay site.  eBay pioneered fighting counterfeits on the internet, launching our first initiative, the VeRO program back in 1998. This enables eBay to partner and collaborate with rights owners (now over 18,000 VeRO members) that help us identify and remove counterfeits from the site. They are the experts.

How would eBay react when counterfeit goods are found on its site?

If we receive a confirmed report of counterfeit goods being listed, we take down the listing. An advice will be sent to the Seller if he/she is a first offender. If the Seller persists in listing counterfeits, more serious actions will be taken by eBay ranging from suspension of the Sellers accounts for a period of time, terminating the Seller\'s account on eBay to referring the Seller\'s IDs to the Intellectual Property Rights owner or Law Enforcement agencies.  In 2008, 4.2 million potentially problematic listings were removed across eBay sites worldwide and 30,000 sellers were suspended for listing potentially counterfeit items. We are serious about what we will do against bad sellers!

Why is eBay promoting cross border trade in Thailand?

Currently our Thai users are among the most active, buying from and selling to users from other parts of the world (CBT).  We will continue to foster this growth and drive cross-border trade through initiatives such as the partnerships with Thai governmental departments to encourage Thai business and individuals to benefit from eBay’s global trading platform.

What are the benefits of selling internationally via eBay’s global online platforms?

Access to more markets across the world, where almost anyone in the world can trade almost anything. Economic opportunities for millions of individuals and SMEs.  Ease and convenience to market goods as well as a safe way to receive payments via PayPal.