Tuesday 31 December 2019

Questions for 2020: Ecommerce gets caught up in rules?

Questions for 2020: Ecommerce gets caught up in rules? An industry desperately looking for clarity. India’s ecommerce industry, estimated to be worth over $ 50 billion, remains enmeshed in regulatory flux. With the final word yet to be said on the National Ecommerce Policy, separate guidelines have been drafted by different ministries on issues such as consumer protection and data privacy confounding an industry in search of regulatory clarity.

Hopes of a stable policy framework had gained ground in June, when commerce minister Piyush Goyal said India would have a comprehensive ecommerce policy within a year.

This followed months of upheaval triggered by new rules specifying that FDI-funded marketplaces could only lend their platforms to third-party sellers and barred such entities from holding any stocks or selling their own goods directly to customers. Morgan Stanley estimated the regulations would drive up business costs and uncertainty, including for industry leaders Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart. So much so, that its estimate of when India’s ecommerce would touch $200 billion was pushed forward by a year to 2027.

Now, as Ministry for Electronics, Telecom and IT drafts rules that will govern non-personal data, and norms for consumer protection are drawn up by a separate ministry, online commerce could be left to battle on multiple fronts.

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