KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said online retail sales almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrating rapid growth of the digital economy as a contributor to the country’s growth.

BNM governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the Department of Statistics Malaysia's (DOSM) online retail sales index averaged at about 33% between March and December last year, versus 22% at the start of 2020.

“While online retail sales were still fairly small at less than 10% of total retail sales, it is expected to trend higher as consumers continue to shift rapidly towards online spending, which encourages more SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to pivot towards online sales,” she said.

Nor Shamsiah expects e-commerce activities to account for a bigger portion of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) from the 8.4% figure reported for 2019. Overall, the digital economy accounted for about 19.1% of Malaysia’s GDP in 2019.

She also noted the establishment of numerous online platforms and marketplaces, which grew rapidly in the past couple of years, which would help lower the barrier to entry for businesses, especially for micro enterprises and SMEs.

“Digitalisation is a crucial aspect of achieving higher growth in a post-pandemic world. The digitalisation of operations and processes will result in productivity gains with more efficient business operations and production processes.

“Digitalisation can also provide households with greater opportunities to supplement their income through e-commerce,” she said.

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