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"eCom21" Forum in Riga: Evolution of E-Commerce Continues

22-Nov-2016 / Products & Services On 17-18 November Riga hosted "eCom21" - the international conference on e-commerce and internet business issues, which is one of the largest in Europe.

This time the forum was attended by around 600 businessmen, professionals and representatives of state institutions from more than 40 countries.

When opening the conference, Ruslan Stecyuk, First Vice-President of Rietumu Bank, a long-standing patron of the forum, talked in particular about the growing interest in e-commerce and e-business in general and about a broad range of problems, as well as issues which are the focus of attention of the market participants. The same was also said by the former Minister of Economics of Latvia, Daniels Pavluts, who represented the Latvian Startup Association at the conference, expressing the opinion that "e-commerce is an industry that will help the global economy to overcome the current difficult times."

The first session of the conference was devoted to the subject of international cooperation in the field of online business. In their presentations, the forum participants were optimistic and expressed a willingness to cooperate on a wide scale, both geographically and in their local markets. Thus in his speech, Vesa Tukonen, Country Manager of VISA, focused on the current strategy of this company, "One cannot run fast for long and alone. VISA is open for cooperation – with external developers, major e-commerce players and retailers." In turn, Vladimir Malugin, Director of PayPal Russia, presented current research performed by his company jointly with Data Insight, on the growing role of online payments in cross-border trade.

The second session of the conference was devoted to the future of cryptocurrencies, as well as regulatory issues and topics. The President of the Russian Electronic Money Association Victor Dostov declared that, following the emergence of the decentralised financial system, which became possible due to blockchain technology, the world of regulators will no longer be the same. "This technology can solve many of the current issues, including the high cost of payments and the decrease in the trust of traditional financial intermediaries".

"A number of projects based on the use of blockchain technology are being developed in Russia. Now the e-commerce market participants face the task of testing this technology and developing an understanding of what to do with it. The second task is to convey a thought to the regulators that they should not be afraid of it; it is the future, and one needs to learn how to cope with this future," said Denis Persanov from QIWI.

Jon Matonis, the Founding Director of the Bitcoin Foundation, believes that the market is only at the beginning of the era of bitcoins and volatility is understandable and acceptable at this stage. This problem will be solved with the growth of liquidity of bitcoins and the increase of their acceptance. "States control you via the money they issue. If you want to be free, do not use such money," exclaimed the guru of cryptocurrencies during the polemic.

"The world has changed, and it is forever," said the Head of the Legal Department of Rietumu Bank Jaroslav Zamullo, when commenting on the global standard for the exchange of information on financial accounts, “primitive offshores will no longer be an instrument for conducting big business. And now, for many, it is time to restructure their activities in order to avoid unnecessary risks.”

Arnis Libenzons, Head of the e-Commerce Unit of the Latvian State Revenue Service, elaborated on the benefits of the tax regime of this country for e-commerce businesses. He noted that Latvia, with its size of the overall tax rate being 35.9%, looks more attractive in comparison with Lithuania (42.6%) and Estonia (49.4%).

On the second day the forum participants worked in parallel sessions. The organisers made a separate topic of prospects for the development of start-ups in the field of e-commerce. This session was attended by representatives of the following interesting and promising companies: Sander Gansen (Shipitwise), Sergey Kotyrev (Umi), Kestutis Gardziulis (Etronika), Jevgenijs Novitsky (Swipe.lv), Vytenis Pavalkis (WoraPay) and Maxim Krupyshev (Cubits). The moderator was Daniels Pavluts, former Minister of Economics of Latvia.

Another session was devoted to the topic of logistics and payments in internet business. The following entrepreneurs shared their views on contemporary challenges and conditions relating to the existence of the logistics environment: Mark Harrison (IPC), Boris Ovchinnikov (Data Insight), Ilya Kretov (eBay), Gunnar Adalberth (UPS Access Point).

Andrey Kovalev from ThreatMetrix talked about new features of anti-fraudulent activities with the use of large data sets and user profiles. Michal Sadowski (Brand24) emphasised the importance of effective communications with the client: "Success in e-commerce depends on the ability to establish this relationship and constantly strengthen it."

"We live in the era of the fourth industrial revolution and the creation of cyber-physical systems, which connect real and information objects through information networks," said Vladimir Komissarov (DEAC, Russia). "78% of business owners believe that Big Data technologies will have a decisive impact on their ways of doing business in the coming one to three years." Yury Ivanov from VK.com spoke on the same subject - about the importance of skills to work with Big Data, "collect and analyse information, build models, put forward hypotheses, collect feedback."

"Sharing Economy is "a token", which, though not new, still arouses great interest. 17% of Europeans use share-platforms, estimating them extremely differently. Every vote "for" this way of purchasing has one vote “against”. Such data were provided by Prabhat Agarwal, Deputy Head of the E-Commerce and Platforms Unit of DG Connect of the European Commission.

Eugene Dugaev, Member of the Board of Rietumu Bank, spoke about the "explosive nature" of growth in the number of new participants of the fintech market, who are increasingly competing with banks in the sphere of retail services, "Do we believe this is a threat? No, here we see excellent opportunities for the emergence of new services. The Bank has already been actively involved in this work. We have excellent examples of successful cooperation with the fintech sector."

In conclusion, the conference participants considered cybersecurity issues. Speeches on this subject were made, in particular, by Christian Chmiel from Web Shield Limited, who spoke about "the evolution of the definition of decency of merchants", and Pavel Krylov from Group-IB, who highlighted the growth of mobile fraud and the current vulnerability of this area.

"Five years is a respectable and worthy term for a business forum. We are very much pleased that interest in it continues to grow. And this year we see new participants with interesting ideas and opinions. We are also pleased with regard to the practical nature and the success of this conference. When discussing the latest trends in e-commerce at "eCom21", we help each other to be aware of them, develop an understanding of how to "fit" into these processes in the best way, "capitalise" on trends, derive advantages and benefits from them," said First Vice-President of Rietumu Bank Ruslan Stecyuk.

Eleonora Gailisha
Mass Media and Public Relations
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