HSBC Holdings has invested $5 million in Chinese B2B company Sparkice, in exchange for a five per cent stakeholding.
The investment from HSBC will be directed towards the development of an international settlement system on the Sparkice Global eXchange, a B2B trading platform for online procurement of finished consumer products from China-based manufacturers.
Sir John Bond, group chairman of HSBC Holdings says the investment is the first stage in a longer-term project to "integrate our financial services with Sparkice's trading platform and extend our online network".
The deal has been sparked by China's entry to the World Trade Organisation and the perception that the country will become an even more important trading partner and manufacturing base for companies around the world. The Chinese government has named Sparkice as one of the country's e-commerce pilot projects.
Launched in April 2001, Sparkice now has a core client database of 2000 domestic manufacturers and suppliers registered to its Global eXchange. The trading platform was developed using technologies from Ariba, Vignette and Oracle.
The company says trials are being conducted with major European and North American buyers who have expressed an interest in accessing the Sparkice network. Companies already offering service gateways to the platform include the Bank of China, international insurance giant AIG, Societe Generale de Surveillance's commodity inspection service and Cosco shipping service.