AITI Cybershop Fair champions cashless payments, helps local e-commerce to grow

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A customer browsing J3Smart website Image: The Bruneian

This article was first published on December 15, 2018 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 22.

Waqiuddin Rajak

Those planning to visit Authority for Info-Communication Technology Industry’s (AITI’s) Cybershop Fair this weekend should not be worried of not bringing enough monies with them as all vendors featured will also accommodate cashless payment systems.

AITI in an e-mail interview said all of its 17 vendors will make use of cashless payment methods as a way to promote its benefits to Bruneians, especially those who have never used them.

This means customers who wanted to purchase any goods offered throughout the two-day fair can just make payments using their cards or any other mobile payment facilities.

Cashless transactions have been making waves in the sultanate since last year, with several firms now prying heavy on diversifying payment mediums to give Bruneian more options to purchase goods without having to fork their wallets out.

Besides swiping their cards, Bruneians can now make payments via their smartphones, especially with Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam’s (BIBD’s) QuickPay, which has been adopted by over 150 merchants nationwide.

Cashless payments go hand-in-hand with e-commerce developments

AITI noted that the introduction of cashless payment methods into the sultanate is a positive development, as it complements AITI’s efforts to promote online shopping trends among the Bruneians.

Last year, the authority completed its e-commerce survey which found that 76 percent of Bruneians are familiar and have been using e-commerce platforms to buy goods, irregardless of whether they are local or international sites.

The remaining 24 percent however still preferred to pay cash and buy their goods at physical shops for fear of frauds, despite knowing the convenience and benefits offered via e-commerce sites.

AITI said it is important to note these concerns being valid, and needs to be addressed – but it should not fall solely on e-commerce firms rather, it should be tacked collectively between relevant agencies.

It added that with the existence of new technologies, a lot of alternative payment methods are available to the consumers which provides better options on what type of payment methods that they prefer.

At the same time, AITI had also been doing its part on raising the awareness on the benefits of going cashless via its social media channels – hoping to educate people who have not heard nor experienced the new payment methods.

Local e-commerce sites to thrive

AITI said its Cybershop Fair was meant to stimulate online shopping trends among Bruneians, which in turn bringing e-commerce platforms as the next big thing that may as well help local businesses to thrive better.

There may be 76 percent of Bruneians adapting to e-commerce, but the high percentage of purchases were found to have made from overseas sellers.

Noting this, AITI wanted to do more to encourage people to look up to local e-commerce vendors and help them to grow and this manifested into its awareness and promotional campaigns.

AITI is aware that e-commerce is one of the most fastest growing and lucrative industries overseas.

“A report released by the US Department of Commerce towards the end of 2018 showed that US e-Commerce retail sales for the first 3 quarters of 2018 was USD380.45 billion,” it said.

“Similarly, here in ASEAN, a report by Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings estimated that Southeast Asia’s digital market could exceed USD200 billion by 2025,” it added.

Brunei’s e-commerce scene however is still at its nascent stage, that is why AITI is currently focusing on increasing its adoption among the people.

“Currently there are existing e-Commerce programs and initiatives targeting the general public, but we also need to look at the business side and this will require the collaboration among relevant agencies,” it said.

“Whether e-commerce will become a lucrative business in the future would depend the level and quality of e-Commerce development,” it added.

Future plans to develop Brunei’s e-commerce

AITI will be conducting an e-Commerce survey for businesses with the cooperation of the Department of Economic Planning and Development and University Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

The e-Commerce survey for businesses will be looking at the supply side, and identifying the level for adoption of e-Commerce for businesses.

Findings from this survey will assist AITI in identifying the challenges faced by businesses, and from there, we can have a more holistic view of the barriers or impediments to increasing e-Commerce adoption among both consumers and businesses

With the introduction of new services and promotion of cashless payments, continuous awareness on e-Commerce as well as the future consumer protection in place, AITI hoped that the adoption of e-commerce in Brunei will increase.

The Bruneian