May 21, 2021: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) will work with businesses to develop and declare e-commerce policy guidelines to build consumer confidence in the electronic marketplace and encourage fair trade practices to prevent any possible abuse and deceptive marketing practices in the e-commerce domain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. Pakistan is no exception where there has been a rapid shift to digital business models, a surge in online transactions, and changes in consumption patterns. Therefore, it is deemed urgent to ensure that consumers are just as safe when shopping online as when shopping offline.
The CCP Chairperson Ms. Rahat Kaunain Hassan said: “Effective communication and transparency will provide impetus to e-commerce growth and building consumer confidence.”
In this regard, the CCP has approached around 35 major online platforms in Pakistan, seeking information on the principal aspects governing their online activities and transactions. These aspects inter alia include the basic disclosures regarding business operations, product(s) specifications and verification process, warnings (product safety etc.), warranties, disclosures and disclaimers, essential terms and conditions of online business in the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase stages, payment modalities and security of payment systems, delivery mechanism, return policy and consequences of delays in delivery, easy access to fair and effective dispute resolution.
Given the growth of e-commerce players in Pakistan, the CCP encourages others not directly approached by it also share the said information and take part in the consultative policy formulation process.
Moreover, the CCP also wants businesses to explain what personal data protection and privacy safeguards are in place and whether information on products and services is presented in a transparent, accurate, easily accessible, and visible manner to help consumers make informed choices.
The CCP’s aim is to strengthen consumers’ trust in the expanding electronic marketplace by providing the guiding principles for e-commerce business for preventing fraud, unfair trade practices and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. They must provide truthful, accurate and complete information to consumers, and avoid deceptive, misleading or unfair claims, omissions or practices.
Once the information is received within the stipulated time, the CCP will hold consultative sessions with all the stakeholders prior to the formalization of any policy in this regard.
The CCP is mandated under the Competition Act, 2010 to ensure free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity, to enhance economic efficiency, and to protect consumers from anti-competitive behavior.