Overview: Electronic Transactions Act
The Electronic Transactions Act was initially passed in July 1998 to establish a legislative structure for electronic payments and to offer consistency and clarity to agreements made digitally. It does not require the use of digital transactions or payments, but it does make them easier to utilize when participants desire to do so. The act was revised in 2010 to keep up with changes in internet commerce and to be consistent with global best practices.
Singapore’s regulatory regime maintains up with global trade legislation and technology advancements to ensure that the country stays competitive worldwide. Singapore’s government supports enterprises to engage in commerce digitally and keep electronically stored information.
Recognizing the expanding significance of online transactions, particularly e-commerce, Singapore was the first state to recognize the United Nations Commission on Global Trade Law’s Model Law on Electronic Commerce in 1996.
Why was the Electronic Transaction Act established?
The Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) was developed in order to support the growth of e-commerce in Singapore and to provide a regulatory structure for digital transactions.
Four fundamental ideas guided the development of the ETA:
- Nations must adhere to and adopt international standards.
- There should be some freedom regarding technology.
- Laws ought to be clear and consistent.
- Governments must refrain from over-regulating the populace.
Objective of Singapore’s Electronic Transaction Act
The following objectives of this legislation must be achieved by interpreting it in a way that is consistent with what is commercially fair under the circumstances:
- To enable digital interactions and to make accurate digital records accessible.
- To support the growth of the commercial and legal framework required to conduct protected digital transactions and to make digital commerce easier.
- To reduce the occurrence of falsified electronic documents, deliberate and accidental record-alteration, and deception in e-commerce and other digital transactions.
- To assist in establishing consistency among the laws, norms, and criteria governing the confidentiality and verification of digital records.
Features of the Electronic Transactions Act
Section 11 of the Electronic Transactions Act states, “Agreements can be signed electronically. In Singapore, an all-digital agreement is a legal document legitimate and binding.”
The Agreement in Singapore describes the broad requirements for contract creation, such as the offer and acceptance of an agreement, the efforts to develop a legal and binding relationship between the parties, and so on. E-contracts are likewise subject to these restrictions. Electronic contracts are legal in Singapore if they are followed and applied in accordance with the basic contract laws as well as the particular regulations governing agreements.
When engaging in e-contracts, keep the following requirements of the Electronic Transactions Act in mind:
- A legitimate agreement is one between an electronic messaging system and a real person, or between any two automated response systems. The agreement’s legitimacy cannot be questioned only because no single individual evaluated it.
- The ETA states “By consent, a deal can prohibit the use of digital records, digital communication, or electronic documents in any document, and the participants can establish extra criteria on the agreement or transaction’s form or verification.”
- An electronic message is dispatched when it leaves the sender’s information system, which is within the sender’s control, or when the recipient receives it. The time of receipt refers to when the electronic message may be retrieved by the recipient.
The ETA states “Any data that is produced, transmitted, generated, or maintained by electronic methods in a computer system or for transfer from one data system to another is considered an electronic record.”
Any data kept in a digitalized format is considered an electronic record. Examples include e-mails, digital pictures, PowerPoint presentations, webpages, and other digital records. No document can be declared invalid just because it is saved electronically. To put it in simple words, the truth that any data is held electronically cannot be used to invalidate that data in any way.
According to the Electronic Transactions Act 2010, there are two conditions:
- A signature is required on a document. Any technique used to recognize a user and imply his or her original intent concerning the statement contained in the electronic documentation will be handled as a signature.
- If documentation or item of data must be published in writing, an electronic record will be legitimate if the data included in the electronic record may be utilized by the company for future reference. In other words, the data should be long-lasting rather than fleeting.
Singapore’s Utilisation of Electronic Records:
Singapore’s Companies Act permits the utilization of electronic records. Electronic records can be kept by businesses in Singapore. The Act additionally specifies that corporation documents can be retained in either print or electronic format.
Electronic Records Preservation:
Where the rule of law mandates the retention of electronic records, the documentation is only legitimate if the preceding requirements are met:
- The data include information such as the data’s origin and destination, as well as the date/location they were transmitted or acquired.
- The information is easily accessible and may be saved for future use.
- Electronic records are kept in the same format as when they were created, transmitted, or obtained.
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Electronic Identity for Government Communication
In 2016, the government announced the opening of CorpPass, a completely electronic identification that firms possess. A number assigned to an organization that allows it to trade with the government in Singapore may be utilized for all government communications.
The CorpPass has provided numerous privacy and security by replacing:
- e-Service Authorization System: It enables enterprises and organizations to grant workers or third parties access to complete e-services on their accounts.
- Singapore Personal Access: Singapore natives, legal residents, EntrePass, and Workforce Past users, among others, utilize a digital identification card.
To execute their financial activity in Singapore, corporations and companies must utilize CorpPass as a unified online footprint. Several logins through SingPass and EASY are no longer required with the advent of CorpPass. Partnerships, offshore bank accounts, corporations, and other organizations that are not qualified for CorpPass will keep trading with the government using their SingPass credentials.
Digital and Electronic Signatures
Electronic signs are not similar to digital signs: An electronic signature is an online recognition that a corporation may use to indicate agreement by a client and that can also be used to digitally verify the person involved. In Singapore, digital resources are legal and accountable. An electronic signature can be a press of an approve button on a webpage where the user agrees with the contract terms, a replica or image of a physical signature, registering on a touchpad with a pad, or consenting to any terms & conditions via digital communication such as e-mail, etc.
A digital signature is a sort of digital message that uses an asymmetrical cryptographic algorithm and a checksum to add an extra degree of protection. A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) validates a sign and contains information about the system administrator. His or her name, location, email, the time the certificate was granted, and the name of the certifying authority are all included. When businesses engage with government agencies, such as when filing taxes or filing documents with the Accountancy and Administrative Regulatory Authority, digital signatures are used.
When compared to conventional in-person signatures, electronic signatures can save the company money. A document may be transmitted through email and signed in a matter of minutes. This is particularly meaningful for multinational corporations. Electronic signatures and their use are given the same significance as written signatures by the ETA.
The ETA states electronic signatures are of 3 types:
- It’s one-of-a-kind for the person who uses it.
- Capable of recognizing the individual
- It is completely in the power of the person who is using it.
Matters excluded by the Act
In Singapore, the ETA does not apply to operations like as-will writing and implementation, financial documents, powers of attorney, real estate deals, and so forth. These exemptions are included in the Act’s First Appendix.
Advantages of the Electronic Transactions Act
Incorporation of electronic applications in the public sector
The ETA has an amnesty provision that allows government agencies and regulatory bodies to adopt electronic documents and electronic versions of documents without having to alter their particular Acts, so facilitating the use of online transactions in the public sector. It also enables government agencies to digitally issue proper licenses.
Network service operators’ responsibility
The role of network operators in supplying information technology infrastructure and material is recognized in Singapore. The government also recognizes that network service providers cannot possibly monitor all of the content to which they just offer access. The ETA provides that network service providers will not be subject to criminal or civil responsibility for third-party information for which they are just the host to promote a clear legal environment favorable to the expansion of network service providers. The provision, on the other hand, has no bearing on a network service provider’s duty under any licensing or other regulatory scheme established by law.
For e-commerce transactions, use the following commercial code
The ETA encourages the utilization of digital transactions, and practically all contracts in common corporate areas, including marketing, purchasing and source, human capital, and finance and economics, may be executed digitally. In these situations, the ETA makes no distinction between signatures and digital signatures.
Provision for security processes such as Public Key Infrastructure development
The ETA establishes standards for the voluntary licensing of certification authorities (CAs) that provide PKI-based digital documents, as well as the nomination of a Controller.
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The Electronic Transactions Act of 2010 governs the utilization of electronic communications, agreements, digital communications, and other online payments in Singapore. Singapore’s legislation on electronic commercial transactions is consistent with global standards. The Act not only gives e-transactions more legal legitimacy but also promotes companies in Singapore to use electronic communication and transactions in their daily operations. In this situation, it is critical for all organizations and businesses in Singapore to comply with the Act and so assist Singapore in achieving its aim of being a smart nation.
The following items cannot be inputted digitally:
- A contract for the selling of tangible personal property.
- Rent or another protracted arrangement for the immovable property that lasts more than 20 years.
- A payment, such as a paycheck is executed.
Bequests and ingredients in making, agreements dealing with the transfer of real property, instruments of trade such as checks, and long-term contracts for real property lasting more than 10 years are all prohibited from using digital documents.
The Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) was developed in order to support the growth of e-commerce in Singapore, to provide a regulatory structure for digital transactions, and to offer consistency and clarity to agreements made digitally.
All electronic records are given legal validity under the ETA 2010 as long as specific requirements are met.
- If a record or item containing data must be delivered in writing, then an electronic record must be legitimate if the data contained in the record may be utilized later on by the business as a source of reference.
- In cases where the law expressly calls for a signature on a document, any technique employed to recognize an individual and express his or her intention with regard to the data stored in the electronic record will be treated as a signature.
Reshma Ali has great expertise in mergers & acquisitions, Financial planning, and international company formation and offers advice and knowledge to help businesses achieve their objectives.