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Businesses give input for e-commerce law

E-commerce in Cambodia continues to be hindered by a lack of regulation that is slowing down the growth of the country’s online economy compared to the region, experts said yesterday.

During an event organised by the Cambodian ICT Federation, panelists explained that the much-delayed e-commerce law has created uncertainty for businesses and a lack of protection for consumers.

Mike Gaertner, chief operating officer of Sabay Digital, said that little progress has been made over the last decade for establishing basic e-commerce protections. “In Cambodia today the only thing that constitutes a contract is a piece of paper with a thumbprint, nothing else actually constitutes a contract that you can enforce,” he said.

“The moment you want to scale your online business you are having issues because unfortunately, between 10 years ago and today, we still have not moved a lot in terms of regulation and laws being implemented.”

Gaertner explained that the industry needs to play an important role in pressuring the government to satisfy the needs of businesses, while blaming the industry for a lack of progress.

“There is a visible divide of knowledge between people in the government and people in the industry because we don’t share the information,” he said. “We are always waiting for the government to come up with regulations thinking that they must understand us, but they don’t because they don’t work in our jobs.”

Shivam Tripathi, co-founder of CamboTicket, an online platform for purchasing bus tickets in Cambodia, added that any potential e-commerce law also needed to protect businesses.

However, because of the relatively small profit margins of e-commerce operators, they often do not register with the government or comply with tax regulations.

“In Cambodia right now more than 70 percent of businesses do not register their actual sales with the government and the tax department,” he said. “If the companies are not properly registering their taxes, no external investor will come into the picture, so it is equally important to protect and help the e-businesses as well as the end consumer.”

Steven Path, president of the ICT Federation, highlighted the growing efforts of the federation to interact with relevant ministries and called on greater cross-industry cooperation in sharing private sector concerns with the government.

“In the industry we cannot afford to wait because all of our neighbouring countries are way ahead of us in e-commerce, so all of this has to be driven by us.”

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