Pakistan lags behind regional economies in ecommerce readiness

Pakistan lags behind regional economies in ecommerce readiness

KARACHI: Pakistan’s readiness to ecommerce lacks lustre compared with its peer economies in the region, keeping the benefits of inclusive digital economy restrained from reaching to the masses, a United Nations body said on Thursday.

The country ranked 114 out of 152 economies in business-to-consumer ecommerce index 2019 prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This year index ranked China on 15 position. South Korea followed suit with 19 rank followed by Japan 21, Sri Lanka 86 and Bangladesh 103. Only Bhutan was behind Pakistan in this year’s index with 116 ranking. The UN body said readiness to engage in and benefit from ecommerce is important to ensure economic benefits reaching across the board.

“Least developed countries take up 18 of the 20 bottom positions in the index,” it said. “The wide gaps between countries with the highest and the lowest level of readiness need to be addressed in order to build an inclusive digital economy for the many and not just for the few.”

The UNCTAD B2C Ecommerce Index measures an economy’s preparedness to support online shopping, covering four indicators – internet users, bank accountholders, secure internet servers and postal reliability – and 152 economies.

The data showed that online shoppers in the country accounted for five percent of internet users and only one percent of 200 million population. That compared with China 69 and 39 percent, respectively; South Korea 60 and 54 percent; Japan 49 and 42 percent; Sri Lanka 13 and 3 percent and Bangladesh 8 and 1 percent.

The UN body’s data, based on latest statistics, showed that only 16 percent of individuals used the internet in the country. Twenty one percent of individuals in 15 plus age group have bank accounts or mobile bank accounts.

The report further showed that only 44 internet servers were available per million people in the country. Pakistan scored 54 in the postal reliability index on sale of 1 to 100. This indicator gauges the reach and reliability of shipping / logistics in ecommerce arena. Pakistan showed a slight improvement in the latest ranking compared with 117 a year ago.

Overall the country clinched 33.7 score in the index compare with China (90.5), South Korea (89.4), Japan (87.6), Sri Lanka (49.6) and Bangladesh (39).

The Netherlands maintained its top position in this year’s index, while mainly European economies held all the positions in the top-10 list that also covers Singapore and Australia.

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