Ireland has a well-earned reputation as a haven for technology start-ups and a host for marquee multinational e-commerce companies such as Google, eBay. But only a quarter of small and medium sized companies here sell their wares online. We are also among the most cash-dependent and least prolific users of electronic payments in the EU.
Ann Cairns, president of International Markets with MasterCard, has been speaking to the Government about these issues and how they can be improved. Ms Cairns said that only 26% of small and medium sized businesses are selling online compared to 78% of UK retail firms. She said she would really like to see small Irish businesses up and running on on the internet, selling domestically as welll as exporting abroad. MasterCard has built capability in Ireland in its innovation labs - the company's global centre for innovation - that can bring a small firm up and able to receive payments within 15 minutes. Ms Cairns points out that 17% of people in Ireland do not have a basic bank account, which makes it very difficult to buy things online.
MasterCard has a big facility in Leopardstown in south Dublin - the company has operations in 210 countries worldwide. Its core centre of innovation is located in Dublin and this comes up with about 100 new payment concepts every year, while it also incubates six companies here.
MORNING BRIEFS - Chiquita has rejected a cash offer from US fruit company Cutrale. Chiquita's board says it remains committed to an agreed merger with Irish company Fyffes. In a statement to the stock exchange Chiquita said the offer from Cutrale, backed by Brazilian investment firm Safra, was inadequate. Chiquita's rejection of the offer, which threatened to scupper the merger, is good news for Fyffes which had seen its shares fall sharply when Cutrale made the surprise approach. The statement from Chiquita comes with an endorsement of that planned merger which, it says, "will create a combined company that is better positioned to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace, while driving strong performance and value for shareholders".
*** Reuters reports this morning that Bahrain-based Arcapita has hired investment bank JP Morgan to advise on a possible stock market listing of the Irish energy company Viridian. Reuters cites sources close to the deal as saying the flotation could see Viridian valued at €1.25 billion. Viridian operates the Energia and Power NI brands and owns the Huntstown gas-fired generation plants in Dublin. It was acquired by Arcapita in 2006.
*** Coca-Cola is paying $2 billion for a stake in the company behind energy drink Monster. Coke will get 17% of the company for that money and two seats on its board. The companies say they will perform a swap which will see Monster take over distribution for Coca-Cola's portfolio of energy drinks while Coke will start distributing non-energy drinks owned by Monster including iced tea and lemonade brands. This marks the second big investment by Coca-Cola in the past six months. Earlier this year it paid $1.25 billion for a 10% stake in Green Mountain coffee.
*** Irish technology start-up Game Golf has received a nice publicity boost. As seen on the front page of the Irish Times business section today, US President Barack Obama has been photographed using its wearable device while playing golf. Game golf monitors and stores data on its user's games to help them improve their golf. The company has raised €11m in funding since 2010.