Malaysia's e-commerce rises 23 per cent in first nine months of 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s digital economy growth is gaining traction with e-commerce income rising close to US$190 billion, an increase of 23 per cent, for the first nine months of this year (9M 2021), compared to the same period last year.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz(pix) said digitalisation has always been of strategic importance to Malaysia as it seeks inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

In 2020, Malaysia's digital economy made up 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and is expected to generate around 500,000 jobs by 2025.

“So we are approaching digitalisation strategically, we have collaboration with the private sector, incentivising people to go digital as well as providing grants and assistance to smaller businesses so that they can benefit from e-payments and expand their customer reach on e-platforms,” he said in a virtual Infinity Forum on the Bloomberg terminal.

In line with this, he said Malaysia has also seen digital payment solutions grow significantly last year with a 664 per cent increase in merchant registration.

“Financial institutions, especially from the private sector, have also begged the government to increase the digitalisation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) beyond financing to open solutions by digitalising the full range of SME operations.

“It will be a real waste if all we got from digitalisation was just an easier way to transact for goods and services,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul also acknowledged that although no countries have been spared from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, advances in digital readiness and the far-reaching impact of technology have enabled Malaysia to better mitigate the more severe effects of the lockdowns and prevent more permanent economic scarring.

“While many physical businesses were limited in the early months of the lockdown, technology has allowed online activity to continue as seen in various industries such as grocery shopping and food delivery numbers which had gone up,” he noted. “In short, digitalisation has been critical in strengthening our economic resilience.”

However, he said there is still much room for development and that the government remains committed to further digitalisation of the economy, noting that Malaysia has launched a digital economy blueprint to empower Malaysians in all walks of life with digital literacy, high value job creations, fintech education, and healthcare.

The blueprint, which is a long term plan until 2030, is to be implemented in three phases and will include investments in digital framework, telco strengthening activity, 5G rollout nationwide, strengthening cloud service provider, with all to cost US$15 billion.

For Malaysia, he said the core of digitalisation must be inclusivity, that is to create a more equitable society.

“So connectivity and internet access are crucial enablers to reduce the wealth and income gap and as the pandemic has taught us, it is increasingly important.

“So we are doing all we can to enable a digital environment. Moving forward we will also be following in the footstep of countries like India in implementing a national digital identity which will support further digitalisation,” he said.

On the legislation of digital technology and infrastructure, he said Malaysia is still evolving in that space as things are very dynamic and fluid.

“In terms of governance, our digital infrastructure must be designed to show transparency and accountability in decision making.

“These principles will set the foundation for more innovation across economies for years to come. We want to integrate different data points across crucial areas such as healthcare, personal and corporate identity, government services, business, and finance. This is also to meet the various socio-economic needs,” he added.-Bernama