Quarantine promoted e-commerce globally and as everywhere in Albania, businesses tried to adapt to the conditions they had towards an online trade, although truncated.

“In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has led to a major impetus towards the digitalization of the Albanian economy. A World Bank Venture Survey for 2020 shows that 20 percent of Albanian firms surveyed have either started or increased their online business activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey of consumers, the World Bank showed that 55 percent of respondents said they had increased their use of the online shopping since the onset of the pandemic.

According to this institution, concrete action is needed to support e-entrepreneurs and this should be extended to several dimensions. The document underlines that Albania’s online entrepreneurs are already showing signs of dynamism and the government can play a key role in enabling and allowing these businesses to their full potential.

Referring to the report, the main recommended actions arising from this diagnosis include first strengthening the confidence of e-commerce companies in Albania.

Secondly, the report draws attention to the need to create a business-friendly environment in the digital economy. This relates first to tax legislation and its implementation in terms of procedures by clarifying the treatment of online retailers and online markets, both in domestic and international transactions. Likewise the regulatory environment needs to become more conducive to online innovation and payments, including through the full implementation of the new payment service law and the use of new business models.

Another element recommended by the WB includes the strengthening of programs aimed at supporting e-entrepreneurs: This includes the creation of programs dedicated to financing and training of aspiring e-businesses as well as regular field activities such as business competitions that highlight the success of e-commerce. .

E-commerce also requires other measures related to expanding broad-based Internet access. This can be helped by the report and by the fact that the Transmission System Operator already covers a good part of the country with fiber optics.

The World Bank underlines that the expansion of access to online payments should be seen as a priority and this is related to the finalization of the roll-out, a framework for the basic payment account that provides some parameters for access and tariffs and transparency.

Encouraging the participation of Albanians in the opportunity of online business is another aspect that is brought as a recommendation by the Bank. It is certainly acknowledged that the transition of shopping culture in the country and online takes time to come but it should be encouraged to grow gradually.

The simplification of cross-border tax procedures in particular for small deliveries as well as the harmonization of the regional regulatory framework are highlighted by the Bank as a key element to be considered while also encouraging Foreign Direct Investment which can be catalysts for the e-commerce ecosystem in Albania.

Klara Ruci

RTSH

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