Reinforcing consumer confidence- key to boosting ecommerce, says OECD


16/11/2009- A new OECD report on protecting and empowering consumers in e-commerce finds that the Internet is proving to be a powerful platform for consumers, helping to slash search costs and boost competition. Online buying helped to put downward pressures on prices, while providing consumers with more choice for an ever-expanding range of products and services that can be purchased from vendors located around the world, from anywhere and at any time. While growth in e-commerce is brisk, the potential to benefit consumers further remains great as online transactions still account for less than 5% of retail trade in many countries, The financial and economic crisis appears to be spurring growth, however; while the retail sector has been hit hard, e-commerce has grown, generating new income streams for small and larger online merchants, as consumers have become more cost-conscious and are increasingly going online to compare products and save money.

Looking ahead, the report indicates that the speed at which e-commerce grows will depend on the extent to which consumer confidence can be enhanced and obstacles, particularly those affecting cross-border transactions, can be removed. Improving transparency, combating fraud, as well as protecting privacy and personal information more effectively are key in this regard.

Representatives from government, business, academia and consumer groups will tackle these issues at a three-day conference on Empowering E-consumers:  Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Internet Economy, on 8-10 December 2009 in Washington D.C. Keynote speakers will include OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría; US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke; eBay’s President and CEO John Donahoe; and US Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz (see detailed agenda).

The event will be webcast by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Questions may be made by the public here via the Google Moderator tool. These will be shared with the panelists at the conference. Discussion may also be followed via the OECD ICT Twitter group (keyword #ecom) and on the Facebook.

Among the issues to be addressed at the conference are emerging challenges in the field of mobile commerce, digital content products, protection of children, dispute resolution, payment security, protection of personal information and privacy, and the challenges of operating borderless business models in a world yet governed by domestic laws and regulations.

The results of the conference will be used to help adapt the OECD’s 1999 Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce to meet today’s challenges. Governments called for such review at last year’s “Seoul Ministerial on the Future of the Internet Economy”, which tracked a bright future for the Internet, as long as stakeholders worked together to address emerging issues before they developed into major problems.

More information on the event is available at:


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