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E-commerce firms want sellers to share liability risk

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E-COMMERCE companies said sellers and online platforms should share the liability risk for online transactions in order to deter scams.

“There are sectors, there are people that say Lazada or the platform should be entirely liable. And I believe that if the platform is entirely liable, then what happens is that the seller is now passing his entire responsibility for running a business to the platform. This will actually encourage even more scam sellers,” Lazada Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ray Alimurung said Thursday during a virtual hearing of the House committee on Trade and Industry.

Mr. Alimurung said that merchants actually benefit from the use of online platforms, while Lazada has been “out-of-pocket for the last eight years with no profit in sight.”

“If I were to raise my costs due to burdens put on the platform such as extra-ordinary due diligence, liability for everything on the platform, and inspection of all goods sold on the platform my operating costs will increase,” he said.

“We kind of have to agree what is the expectation from the platform in the joint responsibility. I would say very high on that list is some manner of self-regulation. And that’s something we should discuss, what should that be like,” Mr. Alimurung added.

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The panel was tackling House Bill 6122 which seeks to establish an E-commerce Bureau to act as a “virtual one stop shop” for consumer complaints about internet transactions, including fraudulent ones.

Digital logistics company QuadX, Inc. President Mia Icasiano-Bulatao said informal merchants who sell using social media should be covered by the bill.

“Much of the provisions of this bill are designed for formal merchants or formal sellers, now my request is we actually break it down to informal (sellers). Now within Facebook, there is a Facebook marketplace, there are Facebook shops, there are pages, there are individual sellers that are just accounts that aren’t even covered by the provisions of this bill,” she said.

Philippine National Police Deputy Director for Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Nicolas D. Torre III said that online scams are a major problem for the agency.

He told the panel that remittance centers should be authorized to handle money transfers between the customer and the online seller to facilitate the tracing of payments.

“Kung ikaw ay naloko, nagbigay ka na ng pera, na-claim na nung seller at hindi niya pinadala ang item, dadaan ka sa butas ng karayom para malaman kung saan kinlaim nung seller at sino yung nag claim ng pera. (If you’re a fraud victim and lost money to a seller who does not send an item, it’s a difficult process to determine who claimed the money and where.) We need to make it easier,” he said. — Genshen L. Espedido

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