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Exploring online commerce legal environment in Kenya

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Exploring online commerce legal environment in Kenya

The usage of e-commerce since the outbreak of Covid-19 in mid-March has increased.
The usage of e-commerce since the outbreak of Covid-19 in mid-March has increased. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The usage of e-commerce since the outbreak of Covid-19 in mid-March has increased. A lot of transactions and operations were digitised to provide for maximum physical distancing.

There has also been an increased demand for web-based business solutions, online payment and virtual meetings. A large number of businesses have to embrace e-commerce.

Post-Covid legal services in Kenya, for example, have gone digital. Many corporate transactions, whether it was the registration of new businesses, tax filings, land registrations and others were done digitally even before the outbreak of Covid-19.

The pandemic enhanced digitisation in the legal sector. Access to justice through courts is now a digital affair.

This begins from the filing of cases, payment of court filing fees and conduct of the proceedings. Digital operations will be the new normal. While the digitisation of legal services has a positive effect in terms of saving time, it has had the negative impact of causing job losses for some in the legal sector.

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Clerks and other paralegals risk job cuts as the need for physical presence at the court registries is minimal.

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To be a competitive paralegal, one must possess information technology skills and diversify to offer their service as a support service to law firms.

A laid-off paralegal can consider offering e-filing support services to several law firms. At a one-off fee, you would provide e-filing support services to several law firms. There is a high demand for that.

This is just a synopsis of the legal sector. However, all sectors will also be affected. It is, therefore, important to know the legal landscape for e-commerce in Kenya. For starters, there is no standalone legislation on e-commerce. The laws and regulations are contained in several legislations unlike in countries like the United Kingdom, where the law stands alone.

The standalone legislation enhances consumer protection and e-commerce.

In the UK regulation of e-commerce, for example, websites are all regulated.

They are required to provide the name, physical address, e-mails, business registration numbers and value-added tax numbers on the website. They must display the prices of goods and services.

All of these requirements protect consumers. The same provisions provide for online contracts in a very detailed manner.

Under the UK e-commerce law, it is possible to sue against illegal transactions. In the case of L’Oreal versus eBay, the former sued eBay for selling their products on their online platform without L’Oreal’s consent.

The lack of standalone legislation in Kenya exposes the consumer to a lot of risks like fraud, especially, where the identity of the purported sellers, their contacts and details are not known.

There are some developments, however, in the e-commerce sector in Kenya, which are commendable.

One is that it is easier to enter into electronic contracts in Kenya with the recognition of electronic signatures. The law now recognises digital agreements. However, use a recognised provider for the ICT and evidence laws to allow the digital signature.

Profits made from digital businesses shall now be subject to a tax soon. It is an important development for those in e-commerce.

However, compliance in matters of digital tax may be difficult due to a lack of standalone e-commerce law. Such a law would not only enhance consumer welfare but also support taxation.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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