The digital marketplace FastTech is closing down. The owners announced this in a message to their customers. The reason is new laws that make the sale of e-cigarettes more difficult.
For almost 10 years, FastTech has been one of the world's best-known sales platforms for e-cigarettes and the thousands of accessories that fall under the segment. Together with similar sites like Gearbest and 3FVape, FastTech has over the years established itself as the e-cigarette equivalent of Amazon and Ali Express.
Favoured small producers
FastTech is based in Hong Kong, but has its main warehouse in China's Shengzen region, where the majority of the world's electronic cigarettes are made. Companies like FastTech soon earned a niche as marketplaces for many smaller manufacturers that were otherwise hard to reach outside of China.
Tougher legislation in China
However, since 1 October this year, all e-cigarette manufacturers must be registered under the Chinese tobacco monopoly. The Chinese government makes high demands on economic conditions and long-term thinking, which will probably lead to many smaller companies being forced to close down. With them, a large part of the products on sites like FastTech will also disappear.
"Our decision is based on the new legislation on the vape industry. The restrictions make the way forward much more uncertain, which also leads to the fact that we can no longer be competitive in terms of prices and supplies. We have done what we could to avoid this. But under the current industry regulation, we have had no choice but to shut down." Writes FastTech in a post on its website.
"Pinches the heart"
Karl-Åke Johansson, chairman of the user organisation NNA Sweden, has mixed feelings about the news.
"FastTech was a one-stop-shop where many Swedish vejpers made a pilgrimage in the past, when the supply in Sweden was very limited. I suspect that there are few vejpers around the world who have not bought something there. Obviously, it strikes a nostalgic chord," says Karl-Åke Johansson.
At the same time, he says that FastTech's approach to everything from age limits to so-called clones, copies of established brands, has been far from problem-free.
"FastTech represents an unhealthy attitude towards genuine products versus clones. This has affected many serious manufacturers, who have had to compete with cheap copies of their own products," says Mr Johansson.
Age checks not prioritised
He also believes that companies like FastTech can create major problems for the vejp movement as a whole. The technology is controversial around the world. The discussions are more about minors getting hold of e-cigarettes than about minimising harm to smokers," says Karl-Åke Johansson.
"FastTech's commitment to checking who they actually send the goods to has probably not been a priority. Today, when the sale of cheap disposable cigarettes is so widespread, it is perhaps good to phase out a player who has no barriers whatsoever." Says Karl-Åke Johansson.