Management of e-commerce mobile apps in Vietnam

In December 2015, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) issued Circular 59/2015 which take effect from 31 March 2016 to regulate e-commerce apps in Vietnam. Below are somesalient points of Circular 59/2015:

  • Circular 59/2015 applies to (i) Vietnamese traders, (ii) foreign traders residing in Vietnam and (iii) foreign traders who have presence in Vietnam via “investment activities”, branch offices or representative offices. A trader who does not have a “presence” in Vietnam and sells goods and services via a mobile app to Vietnam buyer is not subject to Circular 59/2015.
  • Mobile apps are defined as apps which are installed on a mobile device connected to the internet and which allow users to access to the database of traders to purchase goods or services. While the definition is intended to refer to smartphones or tablets, it is broad enough to cover laptops and traditional PC programs.
  • E-commerce mobile apps are classified to (i) apps that sell goods and services of the apps’ owner (Owner Apps) and (ii) apps that serve as a platform for sellers and buyers to transact (Platform Apps).
  • An Owner App requires a notification to the MOIT and a Platform App requires a registration with the MOIT. The procedures and documents required for notification or registration of a mobile app are done in a manner similar to a e-commerce website under Circular 47/2014. In particular, the app owner will need make the notification or registration via the website  
  • Similar to an e-commerce website registration, the registration of a Platform App is not transferable. If the app owner sells a Platform App, the registration will be cancelled and the buyer of the app will need to re-apply for the registration. This requirement makes it more difficult for acquiring a Platform App.  
  • Apps used for banking, securities and other regulated services are subject to separate regulations and are not regulated by Circular 59/2015.