Category Archives: e-commerce

India:Google tax may be broadened to cover non-digital MNCs

India FlagMUMBAI: A budgetary proposal to tax multinationals with a substantial user base in India such as Google and Facebook is now being widened to include non-digital companies.
This could mean that any company that merely sells goods or services in India could see domestic taxes of up to 42% on their profits, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The government is planning to introduce rules to effect the change proposed in the budget in the coming weeks, said one of the persons quoted above.
Many tax experts fear this could impact several multinational companies that only export goods or services to India.

“The question is whether there is a tax to do business with India. If non-digital companies that merely trade with India could see their business connection/permanent establishment set in India slapped with domestic taxes, this could lead to unsettling of settled tax positions,” said , partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP.

According to another person with direct knowledge of the matter, the impact on non-digital companies is unintentional.


Qatar launches digital economy programme

downloadThe Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti launched yesterday the ‘digital transformation for SMEs programme’ that is aimed at empowering enterprises to adopt technology seamlessly.

The initiative is designed to ensure the success of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by increasing their productivity and innovation.
At a press conference, the minister said 5,000 companies are expected to benefit through the scheme by the end of 2019, stressing that the ministry is committed to keep pace with with the digital age. He said the government of Qatar has clear plans for digital transformation and the enhanced role of technology in different sectors, in order to realise the Qatar National Vision goal of building a knowledge-based society.
Al-Sulaiti noted that Qatar now has some of the world’s most developed IT and communications infrastructure, including fiber-optic network, data centers and cloud-based computing services.
He said there are now 2,400 e-government services, with more than 1,000 of them on the internet and more than 600 of them on mobile, stressing that he is confident the government will provide all its services electronically by 2020.
The minister stressed that it is the citizens who will lead the digital transformation initiative, noting that Qatar is first worldwide in the use of internet. “The use of smartphones is at 147% and social media 99%. The ministry will also implement the smart Qatar programme “Tasmu” to use smart solutions in five economic sectors in a bid to speed up the implementation of Qatar National Vision 2030.”
Al-Sulaiti called upon the owners of small- and medium-sized enterprises to participate and benefit from the programme, which is designed to support them to be at the forefront of ICT development.
He also called on them to establish companies capable of playing a role in the development of digital economy and to take advantage of this golden era in the history of Qatar to build companies capable of contributing to the diversification of sources of income.

The Digital transformation of SMEs Program focuses on three specific areas: web presence, e-commerce, cloud services.afadfa

The ministry’s “Digital Transformation for SMEs programme” is set to provide strategic partnership with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Qatar Development Bank, Qatar Chamber, The Communications Regulatory Authority, Qatar National Bank, Ooredoo and Microsoft, for a range of digital and consulting services in the fields of e-commerce.
The programme will improve the business model through digital solutions, to offer the best services to meet the demands of customers, and to enable electronic partnerships with technology companies, financiers and government agencies to enhance the digital economy in the country, and to increase investment and raise gross domestic product.
The minister also toured an exhibition being held on the sidelines and met with officials of a number of small- and medium-sized companies working in the field of digital services.
After the tour, he said the firms participating in the accompanying exhibition represent companies that were able to provide services through the adoption of the programme of digital transformation, which has contributed to the expansion of their services. Besides, it enabled the customers of those companies to deal smoothly with them via smart phones .
Two discussions held on the occasion focused on the role of digital transformation in driving innovation in business and promoting economic growth and the power of web technologies, e-commerce and cloud services in the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

What’s in it for SMEs?




UNCTAD’s E-Commerce Week Development Dimensions of Digital Platforms – 16-20 April 2018, Geneva

e-week 2018UNCTAD UNCTAD’s E-Commerce Week, now in its fourth edition, is today the leading forum for Ministers, senior government officials, CEOs and other business representatives, international organizations, development banks, academics and civil society to discuss the development opportunities and challenges associated with the evolving digital economy.

Under the theme “Development Dimensions of Digital Platforms”, the E-Commerce Week 2018 will explore the growing role of digital platforms and concrete steps to harnessing these evolving technologies for sustainable development.

Highlights include the High-level Dialogue on the Development Dimension of Digital Platforms and two Ministerial Roundtables.

The week will also feature the second session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy as well as many sessions organized by and with eTrade for all partners covering a wide spectrum of topics.

Programme of events.


Digital economy data gap risks widening inequalities, UNCTAD says

unctadAccording to UNCTAD, those least prepared for the digital economy have less data on which to base policy decisions, threatening to widen the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

A lack of data on how companies operate in the digital economy prevents many developing countries from preparing for the new economic era, a senior UNCTAD official says ahead of a global gathering on e-commerce at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva.

Sound policy can’t be made without relevant information, and according to UNCTAD statistics only 4% of the world’s least developed countries have provided suitable data on how businesses use information communications technologies (ICTs), compared to around 85% of developed countries.

“Such data inform governments about the extent to which businesses of different sizes and in different industries are using various technologies to boost productivity, for example, by engaging in e-commerce, interacting with governments and banking online,” says Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics.

Seizing opportunities

Electronic commerce is growing in all parts of the world. But many developing countries remain relatively unprepared for the shift from offline to online trade. Indeed, less than 5% of the population in most of these economies buy goods and services online.

The digital economy is bringing new risks along with opportunities, and emerging technologies such as advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and 3D printing are disrupting economies and societies.

Governments must therefore move quickly to address the internet economy’s effects on the labour market, trade rules, data privacy, and consumer protection, to name but a few.

“To design and implement evidence-based policies, governments need to know the facts and have access to relevant statistics,” Ms. Sirimanne says. “And the more frequently governments collect this data, the better they can identify trends and adjust policies accordingly.”

Unfortunately, according to UNCTAD statistics, the availability of data drops with the country’s level of development, meaning those least prepared for the digital economy have the least amount of information on which to base their policy decisions.

“The risk is a further widening of inequalities across countries,” Ms. Sirimanne says.

What needs to be done?

According to UNCTAD, several actions are urgently needed to ensure that governments have access to the relevant statistics they need to take sound decisions related to the digital economy.

Governments need to include enterprise surveys on ICT use in their national statistical plans. In addition, the international community should offer more assistance to help countries make progress on data collection. And opportunities need to be created for developing countries to engage in an international dialogue related to data collection and analysis, to support policy making related to this topic.

Governments, the international development community, civil society organizations and businesses have the opportunity to discuss related actions at UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy, which will meet from 18 to 20 April during UNCTAD’s E-Commerce Week.

At the group’s first meeting, in October 2017, experts proposed to establish a new working group dedicated to measuring e-commerce and the digital economy, in order to help address the emerging data requirements of policy-makers in this area, and to ensure that international statistical work on the digital economy is directly linked to their policy needs. This proposal will be further discussed at next month’s meeting.



Making digital marketplaces fairer – World Consumer Rights Day 2018

wcrd2018-ecommercenewsitemThe theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2018 is ‘Making digital marketplaces fairer’. Building on the success of the 2017 #BetterDigitalWorld campaign, the 2018 campaign  aim to promote digital marketplaces that are more accessible, safer and fairer for consumers across the globe.

E-commerce has transformed the way that people shop, giving consumers more choice than ever before. But it has also raised global issues that we can only tackle together. In 2017 global e-commerce sales reached $2.29 trillion, but nearly 70% of consumers worry their digital payments are unsafe. Meanwhile, half the world’s population are still offline.

For World Consumer Rights Day 2018, we’re calling for access to fair and secure internet for allaction against scams and fraud, and better consumer protection online. To find out more about this year’s theme, download our background report on e-commerce.


Success of digital economy lies in transparency

tabKenya’s digital economy has experienced significant developments in recent years with new applications powering themselves to ubiquitous status soon after launch.

The over 20 million Kenyans who own smartphones can effortlessly hail a taxi, order a fresh meal, an e-book or buy a television set from their living room or behind the office desk.

This phenomenon is not unique to our geography; last year, global e-commerce sales topped the $2.29 trillion mark, despite the fact that half the world’s population is offline.

Technological advances ultimately make life easier for everybody but, like a double-edged sword, cut both ways – exposing consumers to a raft of risks which differ in magnitude.

Indeed, 70 per cent of global e-commerce customers are afraid that their digital activity is not secure. Data breaches and online fraud and scams, have been widely reported in the West, rank on the extreme end of the risk scale.

According to Consumers International, a global organisation made up of consumer groups including the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), over half a billion digital personal records were lost or stolen in 2015.

Despite this exposure, over 30 countries have not enacted cybercrime laws.

On the other hand, consumers sometimes receive goods of lower quality than marketed, are billed much more than was advertised or battle retailers holding onto refunds arising from botched transactions.

Unlike data breaches, it is easier to resolve these disagreements. However, it would be much better if all these incidences did not materialise to begin with; that the seller and buyer enter and exit an online transaction content.

That way, and with the catalytic backing of an increasingly extensive and affordable broadband network, e-commerce would blossom, even pulling the population currently shying away from trading online.

The demonstrable centrality of the digital economy globally, and the threats and opportunities it holds, compelled the Consumers International to theme this year’s World Consumer Rights Day on this industry.

This commemorative event, held annually on March 15, aims at promoting the basic rights of all consumers, and ensuring that those rights are respected and protected.

This year’s theme ‘Making digital marketplaces fairer’, will see consumer bodies push for digital market places that are more accessible, safer and fairer to consumers across the globe. Given the aforementioned challenges, the onus is on consumer protection agencies like the CAK to sensitise the public on these dangers, how best to protect themselves and channels of recourse when harmed.

Increasingly, the CAK have received and investigated various complaints in regard to digital platforms. These complaints informed the Authority’s move to oblige providers of digital and mobile based services to be more transparent to the consumers insofar as transaction costs are concerned.

Previously, members of the public were only made aware of the cost of a service after the fact – a setup which greatly disenfranchised customers to the benefit of profit-seeking service providers.

On a regulation front, the fact of the matter is that e-commerce is an extremely fluid industry.

Regulators are more often than not left playing catch-up, racing to learn how a new application works, its impact on the economy and the necessary regulation, if any, needed.

The  last December, after a protracted hearing, ruled that Uber is a taxi service, despite the firm arguing it is a digital platform and should remain immune to some laws.

Indeed, the entry launch of Uber in Kenya upended the taxi model, necessitating a multi-agency intervention to prosecute a raft of complaints raised by various stakeholders.

At CAK, we are committed to educating the public about their rights as part of our vision of achieving an economy with globally efficient markets and enhanced consumer welfare.

This education and sensitization remains critical for our young and growing economy, and will definitely continue even after the World Consumer Rights Day 2018.