Although Brunei is ranked with the 15th highest internet penetration in the world and the highest in Southeast Asia (95.0 percent, 2021), the e-commerce industry is still in its infancy. In 2019, the government established a Digital Economy Council to explore the potential of the digital economy industry. The Ministry of Transport and Info-communications published the country’s first Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, which outlines the strategic plans and key projects towards developing a Smart Nation.
Various government agencies have undertaken many initiatives to promote the use of e-commerce. These include enforcement of consumer protection laws by the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics, surveys on consumer attitudes and behaviors towards e-commerce by the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI), provision of secure server facilities by the E-Government National Centre (EGNC), and the issuance of Fintech Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines by the Brunei Darussalam Central Bank. Brunei’s central bank has also recently published a Digital Payment Roadmap for the development of the digital payment ecosystem.
Legal & Regulatory
In 2000, Brunei enacted a commercial code for electronic transactions. The Electronic Transactions Act (Chapter 196) is based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Commerce and the Singapore Electronic Transactions Act. The Singapore Act draws heavily from the U.S. Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and aims to encourage business and consumer confidence in e-commerce and provide legal protection for both the buyer and seller. AITI’s E-Business and Market Creation Unit is responsible for promoting e-business opportunities under the country’s 2000 Electric Transactions Order.
According to an e-commerce survey conducted by AITI, 76 percent of Bruneians use e-commerce to shop, bank, and pay bills. Approximately 57 percent of online shoppers preferred to shop via shopping websites, while 24 percent preferred to shop via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The top purchases online were apparel and travel services. eCommerce revenues in Brunei Darussalam are expected to have an annual average growth of 10.8 percent by 2025.
Digital Marketing & Social Media
As of 2022, approximately 116.5 percent of the population in Brunei were active social media users. (The figure does not represent unique individuals.) Instagram and Facebook are Brunei’s most popular social media platform for e-commerce.
AITI established eKadaiBrunei, a local online directory that lists e-commerce delivery and logistics companies. Some online platforms in Brunei are integrated with online payment capabilities and delivery services. AITI holds an annual Cybershop Fair to showcase the products and services of local e-commerce businesses.