Halifax firm revives barter economy by bringing it online

A Halifax company is betting its future success on a business staple of the past.

Unibax, an online barter exchange company, has been launched through GWC Online Systems Inc. According to vice-president of communications David Finlayson,

its goal is to get as many companies as possible and create a “”massive trading block.””

“”We want companies to trade on their capacity to produce, whatever their good or service is,”” Finlayson says. “”If I don’t have the money to buy a product I can make the money by selling what I have to be able to buy it.””

Finlayson says the system is simple. Company A buys $3,000 worth of goods from company B. Company B gets $3,000 worth of Unibucks that can be spent with any other company in the exchange. The advantage, he says, is the issue of cash flow is bypassed. The first customers include Ignite Interactive Inc., DDA Computer Consultants Ltd. and Minus13. Unibax makes its money by taking a percentage of each trade, through Finlayson says this would not exceed 4.75 per cent.

While any business could be a user, Finlayson says it is courting companies in the travel and hospitality industries.

“”The way we’re building that up is by going back down their supply chain: talking to their purchasing people to find out where they spend their money and then going to talk to the company they spend their money with,”” Finalyson says. “”We don’t want to change the way they’re doing business now. We just want to add ourselves as a method of payment, and that’s basically all we are: a method of payment.””

Philip Rosson, a professor of marketing and international business at Dalhousie University and a member of the Unibax advisory board, says this is why the company will succeed where so many other exchanges have failed.

“”With some of the exchanges, if you joined the exchange it sort of meant you gave up on your old suppliers if you were a buyer, or if you were a supplier you looked for new buyers. I think a lot of people were unprepared to do that,”” Rosson says.

“”They’re trying to incorporate existing exchange relationships into their business model as well as building on top of that. So they’re not trying to replace something that has happened for many years.””

Companies interested in joining the Unibax network can sign up through the company’s Web site.

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