MANILA – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez bared Wednesday his office received nearly 10,000 complaints related to fraudulent online transactions in the first six months of the year.
In the virtual Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Lopez said around 1,000 complaints were filed in the first quarter of the year, and the rest were received in the second quarter.
Online transactions increased in the past months as the quarantine measures restricted the movement of people.
The DTI chief said consumers’ trust issues in transacting online, along with a lack of confidence in using digital payment, is one of the main challenges in domestic e-commerce.
“If these two trust issues will be resolved, we will grow our e-commerce,” he said.
Lopez expressed his support for House Bill 6122, or the Internet Transactions Act, that aims to regulate enterprises using online platforms and protect consumers in transacting online.
The bill also requires online sellers to register their businesses.
Lopez encouraged online businesses to register their activities as business registration serves as a “seal of trust”, which will help them build trust with their customers and also grow their businesses.
In the same online forum, Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Weslie Gatchalian said registration and regulation do not mean automatic taxation.
Recently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) ordered online businesses to register activities.
The government also clarified that those with annual net income of below PHP250,000 are exempted from paying tax.
“What the House Bill 6122 is proposing is to ask all MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), all online platforms who are transacting right now to register. House Bill 6122 seeks to also regulate all of them -- be it small-scale or large-scale like Amazon or Lazada. We all have to register so that the government can regulate,” Gatchalian said.
He added the government will be able to help and protect these online businesses if they will register.
Gatchalian said the government is not targeting online businesses just to regulate or collect taxes, but also to provide a level playing field to MSMEs with physical stores that are registered and regularly paying rents and taxes.
Gatchalian said the internet economy in the country only contributed 2.1 percent to the gross domestic product.
The gross market value of e-commerce in the country in 2019 reached around USD7 billion, relatively low compared to Southeast Asian neighbors like Malaysia at USD11 billion, and Indonesia at USD40 billion.
This despite the fact that the number of mobile phones in the country is higher than its population, with one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world at 67 percent, and one with the most number of active social media users of around 73 million users. (PNA)