The 17th of October marked an interesting day for Sri Lanka and its citizens. It was the day that a Bill by the name of the Electronic Transactions Amendment was approved by the Parliament of Sri Lanka. In case you were wondering, this bill is the first amendment to the Electronic Transaction Act No. 10 of 2006.
It all started in 2015
The United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications or UN ECC is a treaty aimed at facilitating the use of electronic communications in international trade. The ICTA spearheaded the effort to get Sri Lanka onboard with the UN ECC from the year 2015.
Since then, they’ve been hard at work together with the UNCITRAL and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make sure that everything was in order. Now that the amendment is approved, it positions Sri Lanka in a more favourable position to carry out trade via digital platforms with not only Singapore but also China, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam as well. All of these countries are already preparing domestic legislation to ratify the UN ECC, while the Republic of Korea and Philippines are signatories to UN ECC.
What does this Amendment mean?
Essentially, the Electronic Transactions Amendment makes the Sri Lankan Electronic Transactions Legislation compatible with the UN ECC and brings it to the standards set forth by the UN ECC. Sri Lanka also became the first country in South Asia and the second in Asia (the first being Singapore) to adopt the UN ECC. THIs has two benefits: it will boost e-commerce and trade and would also pave the way for an e-government.
Boosting e-commerce and trade
For example, e-transactions carried out would now be more transparent and efficient by the Government and courts in Sri Lanka. E-business providers can also use Sri Lankan law as the applicable law and ensure international validity for e-contracts as well, thus enabling greater trading opportunities for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and cross-border trades as well.
In addition, people could also make use of mobile payments such as Dialog’s eZ-cash and Mobitel’s M-cash and benefit from it as they could be used to enhance trade and business as well.
Paving the way for an e-Government
In addition, the Electronic Transactions Amendment will also solidify the existing infrastructure to pave the way forward for an e-Government. For example, the Amendment will facilitate the use of biometric authentication so that digital certificates and other digital IDs can be used.
Further, the use of digital signatures would also be possible as well. If you wish to file an application, petition, plaint or any other type of document to Court, you might very well be able to do so in a more or less paperless format. This, in turn, would improve the adoption of e-Filing in original Courts.
The benefits of Electronic Transactions Amendment?
Well, as you’ve probably figured out by now, if properly implemented, this essentially means a boost in e-commerce and trade, especially if you’re a small to medium scale enterprise. The fact that the amendment also makes space for an e-government means that we can get all our work done in a more efficient and paperless manner.
It should be noted that the act itself is just a framework. There’s nothing set in stone confirming that we are in fact headed for an e-government or that transactions would benefit from this act. In the end, it would be up to the three pillars (executive, legislative, and judiciary) to work together to become an e-government. Simply making one of these pillars digitized would not make an e-government.