MDEX e-commerce platform to bridge SME digital divide

KUALA LUMPUR: Small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will soon be able to handle business-to-business transactions online with their buyers and suppliers thanks to an iniative by the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) and SME development agency, SME Corp Malaysia.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote an open e-commerce platform to enable trading processes among SMEs.

The platform, called the Malaysia Digital Enterprise Exchange (MDEX) is expected to be ready next month and aims to help SMEs efficiently deal with key business processes and ultimately expand their businesses globally.

MDeC chief executive officer, Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said the subscription-based platform will help empower SMEs and help allay any fears they have concerning e-commerce.

“It will mainly support the adoption of better business processes, reduce human error and facilitate traceability of transactions,” he said at the signing ceremony here.

MDeC vice-president of industry development, Saifol Bahri Shamlan said there are several concerns, such as cost and security issues, which hinder the adoption of e-commerce among SMEs.

MDEX is hosted in the cloud and the subscription fee is RM10 per month. As for the security issues, MDeC said it is leveraging on high security features offered by cloud computing service providers.

“This is how MDEX will start to address the cost and security concerns,” Saifol explained.

MDeC will also hold training sessions for SMEs to help them understand the technicalities of the platform so they will be encouraged to use it.

Saifol said that getting SMEs to trade online will help them be more open to the idea of utilising more sophisticated business IT applications, thus eventually narrowing the digital divide among SMEs.

“By using e-commerce, some SMEs can also expand their businesses to foreign markets which in turn will increase domestic investments as these companies grow,” he said.

The platform is expected to be well-received by the SME community.

A survey conducted by research agency, Frost and Sullivan highlighted a high potential for the uptake of B2B e-commerce among Malaysian SMEs.

According to the survey, about 60% of B2B transactions were conducted over the Internet. It further found that 47% of respondents said they were ready to embrace e-commerce in the next two years.

The survey was conducted under the purview of MDeC and supported by SME Corp, Bank Negara Malaysia and SME Bank.

SME Corp chief executive officer, Datuk Hafsah Hashim said the platform will certainly pave the way for SMEs to conduct business transactions online.

“SMEs lament the lack of facilities and skills when it comes to conducting business online but the features offered on the MDEX platform is easy for any business owner to operate and manage, even if they don’t have any technical experience,” she said.

MDeC and SME Corp will promote the platform through nationwide outreach programmes from next month onwards.

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