by Nguon Sovan, Mao Pengfei
PHNOM PENH, May 26 (Xinhua) -- E-commerce has boomed in Cambodia in the last five years although a law governing the sector is not yet in place, officials and industry insiders say.
Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Mao Thora attributed the growing popularity of e-commerce to the rapid development of technology, saying the government had almost finalized a draft e-commerce law.
"Online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the rapid growth of Internet users in the kingdom," he told Xinhua recently.
"Since there is no law to regulate the sector, the numbers of online shopping platforms and the online trade volume are unavailable and if there is any fraud, it is difficult for us to intervene," he said, adding that the ministry will educate online shopping operators to register their businesses when the law is in place.
Thora said the current e-commerce businesses are made based on mutual confidence and agreement between sellers and buyers only.
He said the e-commerce law will protect both investors and consumers and settle differences when problems happen.
He added that the law will cover e-payment, which is managed by the National Bank of Cambodia, and state punishment for those who violate the law.
The bill is being drafted by the Ministry of Commerce in cooperation with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Justice, the National Bank of Cambodia, and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.
Meanwhile, Thora praised China for its rapid development of e-commerce, saying that Cambodia was seeking China's help to develop its e-commerce. He said China could assist Cambodia through technical equipment and e-commerce experts.
Posts and Telecommunications Ministry Undersecretary of State and Spokesman Khov Makara said about 10 million of the kingdom's 15 million people have access to the Internet, up from only 3.86 million in 2013.
"Currently, about 67 percent of the population have the Internet access, and most of them get access to online via smart phones," he told Xinhua. "We expect that around 90 percent of the population will get connected to the Internet by 2020."
The spokesman said the rapid growth of the Internet users was very useful for daily life, work, and business, including the e-commerce.
He said e-commerce has rapidly developed in Cambodia thanks to technological development and high rates of Internet connectivity as well as the country's strategy towards digital economy by 2023.
Online shopper Roth Navy, 35, said buying goods online is convenient and saves time because there is no need to leave home for the shops.
"Usually, I buy clothes, shoes and handbags from online shops, and their postal service staff deliver those things to my house and I pay in cash on delivery," she told Xinhua.
Sear Rithy, chairman of online shopping platform called MAIO Mall (My All In One Mall), which was launched in 2015, said more and more people have chosen to purchase products online because it is convenient and time-saving.
"We have seen a steady sales growth of around 30 percent per annum, though trade volume is still small," he told Xinhua.
He said the MAIO Mall is the B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer) market.
"Online shopping has been developing well in Cambodia, and we hope that the government will establish the e-commerce law as soon as possible to govern this sector," he said.
Rithy said for his company, there was no difficulty in delivery services because he also owned Kerry Express, a package delivery service company that distributes packages to consumers across the kingdom.
For payment services, he said customers can either pay online through credit cards, or by cash on delivery.
Sun Socheat, chief executive officer of online shopping website Mall 855, which was launched since 2007, said the website was a marketplace for people who want to sell or buy products, ranging from electronic products, to vehicles, to land and other property.
"My online platform is the C2C (consumer-to-consumer) market, I allow people to use the site free of charge to sell their products," he told Xinhua, adding that he got income from ads and from selling electronic products on the site.
He said the current challenge for the online businesses was expensive delivery services.
For payment services, he said customers in Phnom Penh are required to pay in cash on delivery, while those in provinces are required to pay in advance through a mobile money transfer service.
He said in the absence of the law, online shoppers hesitate to pay in advance through the mobile money transfer service because they worried being cheated or given fake products.
"I believe that when the e-commerce law is in place, online shopping will grow stronger because it is convenient for consumers," he said.