Industry

Online Business Registration Booms by 4,000% as DTI Works to Improve Ease of Doing Business

An e-commerce bureau might soon be established under DTI.
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The resourcefulness of Filipino entrepreneurs knows no bounds. While hundreds if not thousands of businesses, big and small, are shutting down due to the pandemic, thousands are also popping up as entrepreneurs turn to e-commerce during the pandemic.

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According to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, the government office witnessed a whopping 4,000 percent increase in the number of online businesses that have registered with DTI.

Calling the rise “substantial,” Lopez shared in a Senate hearing that around 73,276 online businesses have registered with DTI in the span of six months from March 16 to August 31.

Prior to this period, only 1,753 online businesses registered with DTI from January 1 to March 15, the day quarantine began.

But with more businesses also comes more room for complaints as Lopez also reports that the amount of complaints pertaining to online transactions has also skyrocketed. From 2,457 complaints files this time in 2019, the number of complaints exceeded 12,000 as of August, 2020, with many of the complaints occurring in April and May when quarantine was at its strictest.

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“Our consumer protection group likewise saw a significant rise in consumer complaints. The quadruple increase is attributed to the surge of online transactions,” said Lopez.

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There are still a few kinks in DTI’s transition to online registration, but the department is taking the first step toward completely digitizing the process to setup a business in the Philippines.

“Among all the ease of doing business indicators, 'yung starting a business ang i-prioritize. It’s a work in progress. Just give us the next 12 months. Hopefully online na 'yan end-to-end,” said Lopez.

The Philippines currently ranks as the 95th best country to do business in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report, which lists 190 countries and economies. That’s far from the top, but DTI’s new measures might see the country jump to a higher rank in 2020.

"Contactless transaction has become the new normal. We will need a law that will maximize the benefits brought about by a digital economy and effective enough for our kababayans to put their trust in online e-commerce,” expounded Lopez on the future of e-commerce in the Philippines.

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Lopez shared all this information at the Senate committee hearing on the proposed Internet Transactions Act, which was already passed in the House and is being deliberated in the Senate. The bill aims to establish an e-commerce bureau under DTI in order to grow e-commerce in the Philippines and to ensure that online transactions are being executed lawfully and fairly.

“This will not only protect online buyers and sellers but also aim to develop online digital commerce as a trustworthy medium,” said Senator Win Gatchalian during the hearing.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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