The National Conference on Digital Commerce, organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in the Capital on November 27, 2009, sought to identify and analyse ways to build the business environment for digital commerce to thrive in India.
The inaugural session commenced with a welcome address by Ambareesh Murty, Vice Chairman, IAMAI & Country Manager, eBay India. Murty delved upon the need for digital commerce and the challenges ahead. He said, “Digital commerce has allowed buyers to buy simply, safely and transparently. Growing need for convenience has provided an opportunity to the digital commerce.”
Speaking further, he stressed that Internet needed to be made accessible to more people and that broadband was the key infrastructure for the growth of e-commerce and digital commerce. “The courier and logistic industry has still a head room of growth. Electronic payment has grown significantly and it needs to keep pace. Today, consumers are willing to pay and industry needs to understand that.”
Speaking on the occasion, Sanjay Aggarwal, General Manager (Operations), IRCTC, said, “The reason for the success of e-commerce is availability of rare products, cost and convenience such as 24/7 available service.” Citing the example of IRCTC, Aggarwal said that in India most of the transactions were happening on travel, 50-60 per cent of which happened through IRCTC. He also noted that credit card would not be the natural way to transact in India. In order to grow e-commerce in the country, consumers’ trust needed to be preserved while at same time maintaining the quality of the product and delivering on time.
Pointing out some of the drawbacks of the industry in the Indian context, Aggarwal said, “Only 5 per cent of the population in India uses the Internet. Both the industry and the Government need to play their role. Lack of vernacular content is also a huge problem in a country like India. Clarity on taxation issues is also very necessary for an industry like digital commerce.”
Putting forward the Government’s viewpoint, R Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. said, “This area is of a great potential, especially for economic, social and cultural environment of India. India has 50-60 million Internet users, but only 5-6 million carry out transactions on the Net.”
Chandrashekhar emphasised more on the rural areas and said, “People who are deprived and are in the rural areas can make good use of the Internet. They can sell their agricultural product very effectively through digital commerce. The Government has run some programmes in villages to provide them with Internet services. Nearly 100,000 villagers are covered under this programme. By 2012, more villages will be covered under these programmes.”
Speaking on the future growth of this industry, the IT Secretary noted that modern changes were taking place in the country and that introduction of 3G would be a great boost to this industry. “The private sector alone cannot do the entire and the Government has to also step in a big way. The Government would be setting set up a group to work out all regulatory, procedural and technical issues within the next two months. Lots of security issues will get better by the introduction of UID,” he added.