TRADE Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual declared his support for the proposed Internet Transactions Act, citing the need for consumer protection in growing the e-commerce market.

“The  bill seeks to strengthen trust in e-commerce and online transactions. At the heart of this highly anticipated legislative measure are mechanisms such as the Online Business Registry (OBR) and the e-commerce Philippine Trustmark,” Mr. Pascual  said during his speech at the Ad Standards Council induction last week.

“Given the volume of fraud online, it doesn’t come as a surprise that consumers base their purchasing decisions on how much they trust the e-commerce system in general and the online merchant in particular,” he added.

The law is being proposed via Senate Bill No. 1846, which is undergoing second reading. The bill is sponsored by Senator Mark A. Villar.

The bill tackles consumer rights and data privacy in online transactions, and proposes to regulate as business-to-business and business-to-consumer internet transactions, online travel, online media, and online delivery. The proposed law will also result in the establishment of an e-commerce bureau at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

While awaiting the law’s passage, Mr. Pascual said the DTI’s Digital Philippines e-commerce division is drafting a department administrative order, which contains guidelines governing the issuance of the e-commerce Trustmark, indicating that certain e-commerce cites have undergone a degree of vetting.

“Online platforms and sellers that uphold the rights of consumers and practice responsible business will get this badge of trust,” Mr. Pascual said.

“Trust, or more precisely lack of trust, is still the biggest barrier to the industry’s realizing the full potential of e-commerce,” he added.

The Philippine digital economy is projected at $35 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2025 and $100 to $150 billion GMV by 2030, according to the e-Conomy Southeast Asia Report 2022 issued by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Co. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave