E-commerce projected to sustain economic activity and growth in the Philippines

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) advises that e-commerce platforms can help support economic activity and ignite growth as the Philippines continues to manage and adjust to the new normal circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Online shopping and marketing platforms will play (a) bigger role in the new normal as businesses and consumers increase the use of electronic transactions, including cashless payment systems and other financial technology platforms,” Acting NEDA Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a statement Monday.

From April 5-8, the NEDA-led Inter-agency Task Force Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (IATF-TWG for AFP) launched three separate surveys aimed at understanding the consumers, agriculture, industry, and services sectors and the general public.

The results of the consumer survey, which generated data from 389,859 respondents, indicate that more than 50% in the private sector experienced a decline in income, largely due to the loss of their source of livelihood.

Further, many had difficulties accessing goods and services because of the closure of businesses, the installation of early curfews, and the lack of public transportation.

“Businesses need to innovate and make full use of technology to resume operations and cater to consumer needs and preferences while still managing risks of COVID-19 infection,” Chua said.

Among the recommended legislative actions contained in the ‘We Recover as One’ report is to revisit the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 to make it more comprehensive in detailing transactions covered by the law, specifying the rights of consumers, and strengthening the penalties imposed on service providers.

“Businesses need to make online shopping easy, affordable, and secure for consumers so that they need not go out to buy what they need and want,” Chua said.

Chua added investments in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure will also have to be boosted to meet the surge of online transactions and the consumers’ expectations for reliable digital connectivity.

Financial institutions are also encouraged to implement better cybersecurity measures and regulations for both consumers and merchants/establishments.

In addition, changes in consumer preferences such as the rising demand for safe and nutritious food would require strict enforcement of food safety laws, regulations, standards, and sanitation protocols.

Also needed to help protect consumers from potential losses and uncertainty are educational campaigns on insurance policies.

“The passage of the Financial Consumer Protection Bill will provide the regulatory framework to protect the interest of financial consumers and reinforce confidence in financial markets,” Chua added.

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