Indonesia has banned e-commerce transactions on social media platforms in the country of 274 million, in what will be a major blow to the likes of China’s TikTok.
Jakarta’s trade minister, announcing the move on Wednesday, said the ban, which takes effect immediately, is aimed at protecting offline merchants and marketplaces, adding that predatory pricing on social media platforms is threatening small and medium-sized enterprises.
The move comes just three months after TikTok pledged to invest billion of dollars in Southeast Asia, mainly in Indonesia, over the next few years in a major push to build its e-commerce platform TikTok Shop.
TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, has 125 million active monthly users in Indonesia and has been looking to translate the large user base into a major e-commerce revenue source.
A TikTok Indonesia spokesperson said it would pursue a constructive path forward and was “deeply concerned” with the announcement, “particularly how it would impact the livelihoods of the 6 million” local sellers active on TikTok Shop.
Indonesia Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan on Wednesday told reporters that the regulation is intended to ensure “fair and just” business competition, adding that it was also intended to ensure data protection of users.
He warned of letting social media become an e-commerce platform, shop, and bank all at the same time.
Zulkifli said TikTok had one week to comply with the regulation or face the threat of closure. Indonesia Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga earlier this month named TikTok’s live streaming features as an example of people selling goods on social media.
Tokopedia, Shopee, Lazada Dominate
Research firm BMI said TikTok would be the only business affected by the transaction ban and the move was unlikely to harm the digital marketplace industry’s growth.
Indonesia’s e-commerce market is dominated by the likes of homegrown tech firm GoTo’s Tokopedia, Sea’s Shopee and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Lazada.
E-commerce transactions in Indonesia amounted to nearly $52 billion last year and of that, 5% took place on TikTok, according to data from consultancy Momentum Works.
Indonesia is among the few markets where TikTok has launched TikTok Shop, as it seeks to leverage its large user base in the country.
Its 125 million active monthly users in Indonesia is almost on par with its user figures for Europe but behind US users of more than 150 million. TikTok launched an online shopping service in the United States earlier this month.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara