Danny Lim lives in Singapore with his wife and a son who has wide feet. Wide shoes are hard to find in Singapore, so Lim’s wife decided to shop for them on U.S. websites. There was just one problem: No one would sell her the shoes. American retailers don’t like to take credit cards from other countries; they don’t like to ship things overseas; and they especially don’t like to do business with customers whose IP addresses place them in parts of the world with a high incidence of fraud—like Singapore.
“Whenever there’s a problem, there’s an opportunity,” Lim says pragmatically. And so, he founded a company called ComGateway, which aims to bring online shopping in the United States to customers in Asia. Some 3,000 Singaporeans have already signed up for the service, which gives them a mailing address in Portland, Ore., from which ComGateway forwards their packages.
The startup has addressed security concerns by partnering with MasterCard and DBS, Singapore’s largest bank, to integrate the address verification service used by online retailers to identify potentially fraudulent purchases. In addition, ComGateway confirms each transaction by calling the customer’s registered cell phone and asking for a PIN. Many retailers are clearing the shipments, and Lim claims a fraud-free track record.
He plans to roll out the service to other countries, starting with Hong Kong and two major cities in China sometime in the next year.