Malta has highest rate of consumers who purchase online – Minister Dalli

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Malta has highest rate of consumers who purchase online – Minister DalliAn online shopping conference was held today at MCC, Valletta. The conference, 'Xiri u Lmenti onlajn: X'esperjenza Ghandek?' was organised by the Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, which falls under the remit of Minister Helena Dalli.

The conference saw the participation of MEUSAC, the Malta Communications Authority, GRTU, Malta Enterprise, The Consumers Association, Are You being Served? – a Facebook page specially set up for consumers to air their complaints, ECC Malta, and the Association for Consumers' Rights.

In a video conference, Minister Helena Dalli said that the conference is one of the many joint initiatives her Ministry and MCCAA are taking to raise awareness on internet use. Dr Dalli highlighted that Malta has the highest rate of consumers who shop online.

MEUSAC head of EU Policy and Legislation Kurt Formosa said that the conference shows that there is wide collaboration with various entities, in this case with MCCAA.

He highlighted that a month ago today, the MEUSAC Core Group Meeting discussed the Digital Single Market Strategy. He said that during the meeting it emerged that internet speed tripled.

Quoting a European Commission survey, he said that European consumers are sceptical about the safety of online payments and their personal data when paying online. In the same survey, he continued, it also emerged that Malta is among the top countries when it comes to the e-commerce sector (50%) when the EU average is 18%.

Malta Communications Authority representative Denise Borda said online business increased by over 13% but pointed out that most online business does not happen cross border. She also spoke about the so-called unjustified geo-blocking phenomenon.

Denise Borda explained that a key plank in the Digital Market Strategy is described by the European Commission as "preventing unjustified geo-blocking," and legislative proposals are planned for the first half of 2016 to address this practice.

"Online sellers use geo-blocking for commercial reasons to either deny access to websites and content based in other member states, re-route traffic to local websites or apply different prices. By limiting consumer opportunities and choice, geo-blocking is seen as a significant cause of consumer dissatisfaction and possible fragmentation of the Internal Market."

She said the first results of a string of investigations which are looking into geo-blocking will be released later this year while also highlighting that new legislative proposals could be presented by the Commission next month.

Photograph: DOI/Francis Micallef

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