Group urges new criteria for e-commerce listings

By Christine Chou, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan Internet and E-Commerce Association Chairman Jamie Lin (林之晨) on Thursday urged the government to set up new listing criteria for e-commerce platforms to help nurture local tech startups. Taiwanese technology startups have largely stayed away from listing on domestic stock exchanges due to unfavorable regulations, according to the business association. Attending a forum on e-commerce fundraising strategies jointly held by accounting firm Deloitte and the over-the-counter securities market Taipei Exchange (櫃買中心), Lin said domestic stock exchanges could design a separate category that caters to e-commerce companies — one that eliminates rules requiring companies to have posted no cumulative losses prior to their initial private offering, calling such losses “sunk costs.” The 38-year-old Lin is a local digital thought leader and startup enthusiast hailed by GQ Taiwan as a “man of the year” in its annual roundup. He also said e-commerce companies could not be judged by the same parameters as traditional companies, which have entirely different business models and growth trajectories.

Lin urged the government to cancel restrictions on capital rather than choosing to measure tech startups by their market capitalization. “In the foreseeable future, e-commerce is going to become the mainstream economic model. It could also be key to boosting Taiwan’s global competitiveness,” he said. Taipei Exchange CEO Chang Li-chen (張麗真) said the exchange had been following government policies aiming to facilitate the growth and financing of e-commerce firms.

Chang vowed that besides continuing to assist companies to raise funds and boost their market value, the Taipei Exchange would establish a more structured, comprehensive system to help make e-commerce businesses more sustainable. Trillion-dollar Industry Deloitte Taiwan CEO Denny Kuo (郭政弘) said e-commerce platforms were currently a dominant force driving growth in companies and prompting them to overhaul their core operations.

The fast-growing sector became a “trillion-dollar industry” in Taiwan in 2015, Kuo said. “It is apparent that e-commerce has changed the face of shopping and living for consumers, and many firms have scaled their firms significantly.” Commercial website and mobile app solutions provider 91APP founder and chairman Steven Ho (何英圻) highlighted the growing importance of user experience, saying traditional retailers have to become “people-centered, all-channel brands” in order to successfully transition to e-commerce.