With the rapid growth of internet connectivity, online business has become rampant over the years.
E-commerce refers to transactions of goods or services through the internet, mobile devices or other information networks.
In Thimphu, there are 15 licenses for e-commerce businesses so far. However, there are no applicants for e-commerce business from other regions so far.
To facilitate entrepreneurs and people wishing to do on online business, Ministry of Economic Affairs has come up with e-commerce guidelines 2019.
The objective of the e-commerce guidelines is to primarily promote and facilitate continuous growth and development of e-commerce activities whilst ensuring that economic interests and rights of the consumers are protected from unfair trade practice.
Minister for economic affairs Loknath Sharma said that over the years, e-commerce has become the order of the day and resulted in significant change in business models, witnessing a tremendous growth around and Bhutan is no exception.
Lyonpo also mentioned that emergence in the country has presented enormous opportunities as well as challenges and therefore we must be prepared to embrace opportunities and at the same time address the challenges arising from e-commerce.
The regulations state that in the category of e-commerce operator, the platform operators refer to any legal person or organization or agency that provide cyber spaces of business, transaction matching, information distribution and other services to the parties of an e-commerce transaction to enable them to carry out independent e-commerce activities.
The regulations state operators on platform refer to an e-commerce operator that sells goods or provide services to customers through e-commerce platform operators and other operators refers to an e-commerce operator that sell their own goods or provide their own services through self-established websites.
The platform operators and other operators will have to obtain e-commerce license for e-commerce business.
The regulations state that the online business must ensure the delivery of goods and services to the consumer in a manner and time provided as per the commitments made or agreed with the consumers, and assumes the risk and responsibility during the shipment of goods unless consumer chooses another logistic service.
It also states that interest of consumer must be respected to avoid any form of exploitation.
An e-commerce platform must set up payment methods either through a licensed payment services provider, a bank or a payment gateway approved by RMA to provide secure payment services as per the central bank’s payment and settlement rules and regulations 2018.
Sellers will provide clear information about the goods and services to enable the consumers to make informed decision before entering into the transaction and avoid risk to consumer.
Regulations state that if any products that are supplied consumers are defective and different from advertised and the agreed one, it will be returned to the supplier for replacement. The cost incurred for product return shall be borne by the supplier.
If the consumer prefers refund of money in lieu of replacement, the consumer will be refunded.
The Chief Trade Officer under Department of Trade, Rinchen Lhazom said that the non-compliances to this guideline will be dealt as per relevant laws and regulations of the Bhutan.
The senior Trade Officer of Thimphu trade region said that so far they have not received any complaints on the unregulated online business which are taking place in the social media.
“If we receive complains, the office will take action,” she said adding that now they must comply with the rules and regulations.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu