Despite high growth levels of internet use, e-commerce has been restricted in Viet Nam, attendees agreed at a seminar held in Ha Noi last Saturday.
Titled E-commerce for Integration and Development, the seminar aimed to promote e-commerce in Viet Nam to meet the targets set recently in the nation's master plan for developing e-commerce in the 2011-15 period.
According to the plan, 80 per cent of large-sized enterprises and 45 per cent of small- and medium-sized enterprises will have website with the firms' information and products by 2015. In the plan, 70 per cent of large-sized enterprises' websites will have online transaction functions, and 30 per cent for small and medium-sized businesses.
The plan also states that 50 per cent of utilities companies should accept online payments for electricity, water, telecommunications and media services.
Chairman of the Viet Nam E-commerce Association (VEA) Le Danh Vinh said Viet Nam ranked among the world's top ten countries with the quickest information and communication technology growth by the International Telecommunications Union.
Despite the rapid take up of the internet throughout the country, Vinh said, the application of e-commerce in Viet Nam has remained restricted.
E-commerce first appeared in the country in the early 2000s and includes the sales aspect of e-business and the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of business transactions.
However, according to the VEA, business-to-business (B2B) or consumer-to-consumer (C2C) websites in Viet Nam are mostly in a trial stage, and are only showrooms to introduce their products.
A Ministry of Industry and Trade survey of 1,000 firms recently revealed 20-25 per cent of the companies had websites, but most only introduced the firm and their products. Only 32 per cent of surveyed websites had online transaction functions and roughly 7 per cent had online payment functions.
To apply e-commerce more effectively, Vinh said the Government should map out plans to boost relevant agencies, businesses and consumers to use online transactions and payment functions.
He said besides supporting businesses in applying suitable e-commerce models, the Government should streamline the legal system to ease the application of such services.
Former head of the Economics Institute Do The Tung recommended the Government learn how best to promote e-commerce from foreign countries and listed South Korea as an example of providing effective training programmes to help its 13 million low-income earners take part in e-commerce between 2000-02.
It was also necessary to develop human resources, build sufficient infrastructure and develop appropriate public services to boost e-commerce, Tung said.