This for that: Singapore embraces barter in recession

Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:46am EDT
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By Puja Bharwani

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Hair styling in exchange for printing jobs. Feng shui services for marketing expertise.

It isn't your typical mode of business, but as the recession bites, many people and enterprises in Singapore are turning to the age-old practice of barter to pay bills and cut costs.

But gone are the days of the simple one-to-one direct barter. Currently, there are two online barter exchanges -- Barter Vista and BarterXchange -- and they are attracting hundreds of people seeking innovative ways to stretch their dollars.

"Barter Vista is where business owners, especially small and medium enterprises, come together to barter trade their excessive inventory or their slow time, in return for things that they will otherwise use cash to buy," said Chew Chee Yong, managing director of Barter Vista, which has about 400 members.

"For example, my printer, one of my members, barter-traded his spare capacity in return for staff benefits, or even dining vouchers and insurance," he added.

From business to beauty, there's something for everyone on the barter websites.

Daisy Leng gets her hair styled at Tranzform Hair Studio, also a barter website member, which in turn gets printing and web publishing services from another member.

Users of the site pay a one-time joining fee of $520. Members who offer their services earn a barter currency which can be traded for products or services. For every transaction conducted, Barter Vista takes a cash commission.   Continued...

<p>An office worker walks outside a train station during lunch time in Singapore's financial district January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash</p>