In Myanmar, the government is aware of the potential of the e-commerce sector and has already developed draft e-commerce guidelines. Geraldine Oh notes that currently, there are no investment restrictions, so any e-commerce business can invest as a 100 percent foreign-owned business.
Governing legislation/ framework
There is the E-commerce Operations Guidelines 2020 (“Draft E-commerce Guideline”) which is currently in draft form for E-commerce business activities in Myanmar. Other laws that apply include the Consumer Protection Law, Telecommunication Law, Electronic Transaction Law, Competition Law, Trademark Law, Myanmar Companies Law and Foreign Exchange Management Law which each have their respective scope that covers E-commerce activities.
E-commerce generally comes under the purview of the Department of Trade under Ministry of Commerce.
Licensing & market entry requirements
We note that the Draft E-commerce Guideline has not been passed or gazetted into law, however we are providing information on the basic regulatory framework envisaged thereunder.
The type of E-commerce activities that fall under the scope of the Draft E-commerce Guideline are as follows:
- Platform Operators: An entity which can manage a cyberspace or a virtual place is eligible to conduct independent E-commerce activities.
- E-commerce Operators: Any E-commerce operator selling goods or providing services to consumers via an E-commerce platform run by Platform Operators.
- Other Operators: Any other E-commerce operators selling or rendering their goods or services through their own websites.
The types of licenses required for setting up E-commerce business as follows:
- Company Registration Certificate as per the Myanmar Companies Law 2017
- Application Service license as per Telecommunication Law 2013
- E-commerce registration as per Draft E-commerce Guideline.
Foreign equity restrictions
There are no provisions in the Draft E-commerce Guideline regarding foreign equity restrictions.
Payment solutions, foreign exchange administration and merchant acquiring services
The Draft E-commerce Guideline does not provide specific solutions for payment.
Many Myanmar based E-commerce platforms utilise cash on delivery as a primary mode of payment pre-COVID. However, increasingly there has been reliance on e-wallets (mobile financial services) or a variety of mobile banking transfer mechanisms (with limited credit card usage in Myanmar).
With regard to merchant acquiring services, the Central Bank of Myanmar (“CBM“) issued Notification 7/2020 being the Merchant Acquising Services Directive (“Notification 7“) which regulate payment transactions processing services in Myanmar, requiring such a service provider to first obtain a license from CBM and within a regulatory framework of activities set out in Notification 7.
The Consumer Protection Law 2019 is the main law that consumers may rely on to seek remedies for damages for defective goods purchased from E-commerce platforms.
There are no specific user agreement terms and conditions in Draft E-commerce Guideline which are required to be adopted or applied by E-commerce websites. The Draft E-commerce Guideline only provides that the contractual terms and conditions shall be fair and transparent to consumers and mutual consent has to be obtained when entering into a contract and the contract shall be void if the terms and conditions are not fair to consumers. Therefore these would be based on the Myanmar Contracts Act 1872 and Myanmar Sales of Goods Act 1930.
E-commerce operators shall keep confidential the personal data of consumers such as personal details, bank details, economic status and purchase record and such personal data of the consumer shall only be used for E-commerce transactions.
Personal data is further protected in Myanmar based on recent amendments made to the Electronic Transactions Law 2004 in February 2021, creating a rudimentary or basic framework for personal data protection. A new Section 27A sets out duties and responsibilities of a “Person Responsible for the Management of Personal Information” (as defined therein) in the treatment, utilisation and disclosure of personal data. Unlawful disclosures or data breaches are punishable with imprisonment for a term of one to three years or fines between MMK 5 million to MMK 10 million, or both (Sections 38A and 38B).
For E-commerce business, the E-commerce operators shall:
- provide clear and true information to the consumers and ensure that the information is easily accessible;
- provide their business’s registered name, address, email address or other electronic contact details or phone number in advertisements and websites; and
- membership registration information.
For more information about e-commerce across ASEAN, download the comparative guide, ASEAN Insiders: Electronic Commerce in ASEAN.