Use the various digital alternatives cautiously during COVID-19 lockdown!

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It is your right to reject any item delivered that does not fully conform to the description on a retailer’s website that made you decide to place the order.

 

The COVID-19 lockdown measure has indeed awakened the Ghanaian population to various digital alternatives to the traditional ways of doing things. Chief among them is the capability of ordering almost everything online and having it delivered to a given address.

 

Stakeholders, as we have seen lately, are looking for ways to even engage our children digitally while they are at home.  As the business environment leans toward various electronic implementations, it is right to remind us all of our rights and responsibilities as we engage.

 

Being a new phenomenon for most people, there is a need to ensure that players know their rights and responsibilities within the e-transaction ecosystem. The term ‘electronic’ has been misunderstood by many over the years. Here is a definition from framers of the model law by the Commonwealth Secretariat:

 

‘electronic’ includes created, recorded, transmitted or stored in digital or other intangible form by electronic, magnetic, optical or by any other means that has capabilities for creation, recording, transmission or storage similar to those means.

 

This article is an extract from the Model Electronic Transaction Law by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

In this era of electronic transactions all around us, it is very important to acknowledge and abreast ourselves with the basic laws which spell out our rights and responsibilities as we begin to do things electronically.

 

This Model Law on Electronic Transaction clearly agrees that there is need for a clear set of acceptable rules which should aim at removing legal obstacles and rather increase the legal predictably of e-commerce.

 

Information shall not be denied validity just because it is in the electronic form. This in layman’s understanding means even emails, WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts can be subjected to legal scrutiny. The same applies to any contract done and signed electronically.

 

This law has generally made provisions to ensure parties involved in electronic transactions are protected.  It is rather unfortunate that these provisions are not well understood or even enforced on our side of the digital economy today. I have always maintained that e-business is still business and must be treated as such, even though the means of transaction seem to differ.

 

It is important to note that the Model Law encourages government or any of its agencies which are empowered to create, collect, receive, store, transfer, distribute, publish, issue or otherwise deal with information and documents, to do so electronically.

Some Objects of the Act

 

  • Even though the Law encourages some requirements before one can have an electronic wallet, it insists that it should not be so rigid as opening a bank account. This, I assume, is to ensure an easier and faster adoption of electronic money via technology means, seeing that it has a great potential to bring on board even the unbanked population of a country.

 

  • Framers of this Act envisaged that there is a possibility of people using electronic transactions wrongly, just as it is in any business environment. This has been proven true even in our own country, with the several mobile money fraud activities reported in recent times. Therefore, these rules and regulations will help prevent or address any mishaps that may occur.

 

  • In previous articles about mobile money adoption, I have stated clearly that the mere message of convenience will not cut it in the long run. For a larger and sustainable adoption, there is a need to assure people that this means of e-transaction is as secure as the traditional banking ones. Consumers and merchants must have confidence in it to help engineer value additions on the platform.

 

 

Protection for the e-Consumer

As a consumer in this new era of digital life and business, the Model Electronic Transaction Law makes a provision for you to be safe:

  • The Law says that any person or entity engaged in selling goods or services online should provide accurate, clear and accessible information about their legal name, location address, and electronic contacts such as email, WhatsApp or telephone number.

So, the next time you want to patronise anything online, look out for the above-listed at least.

  • Their description of whatever they’re selling online should be accurate enough for you as a consumer to make an informed decision to buy or not.

This provision is very important as you buy items from the likes of Africakart.com, Jumia.com.gh and Melcomonline.  It is your right to reject any item that does not fully conform to the description that made you buy it.

 

  • The seller of goods or services is mandated to make clear the terms and conditions about payment methods; charges, if any; withdrawals, cancellations, returns, exchange and refund policies.

These provisions are made to ensure that you can confidently go about your digital life and do transactions feeling protected.

You are therefore encouraged to use the available electronic/digital alternatives especially during this COVID-19 era, but do so cautiously.

Stay home, Engage digitally, and Stay safe.

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