In order to develop a digital economy, Vietnam needs to create an ecosystem and raise awareness among non-internet companies, while improving the skills among employees.

It also should create regulations that are more clear and increasingly transparent.

John Ure, Director of consulting and research firm TRPC made the recommendation at a Hanoi recent conference entitled Powering the Digital Economy in Vietnam.

"Vietnam's internet economy has been growing based upon its infrastructure, especially the use of smartphones. It is currently making the transition to a digital economy. The digital economy is very weak in Vietnam, but today there are examples of companies making good progress. They are paving the way to the future," Ure said.

In three months, TRPC conducted a study on current situations and the potential of doing businesses on the internet in five Asian countries, including Indonesia, India, the Republic of Korea and Japan. In Vietnam, it performed research on, an online payment platform from Peacesoft Solutions Corporation and GiapSchool, the first massive open online course (MOOC) platform in Vietnam, which was founded by Dr Giap Van Duong.

The statistics in the report indicate the ongoing growth of the two platforms and their potentials. Based on the results, the company recommended Vietnamese authorities work with government agencies to ensure transparency and develop regulations on e-commerce that are more clear. It also suggested Vietnam improve close partnerships between universities, research institutions and industries.

"Compared with Indonesia, Vietnam has a stronger infrastructure, especially in the use of smartphones, though they have been seeing growing in both countries. This is also true with India. Vietnam is more compact, making it easier for people to access the internet, while India and Indonesia are very large countries," Ure said.

"One similarity among the three countries are their rules and regulations. Sometimes they are not as clear as they should be. This puts investment at risk because people don't like uncertainty."

Attending to the conference, Peacesoft Deputy General Director Nguyen Huu Tuat highlighted online car-sharing service Uber and Airbnb, which allows travelers to rent rooms, apartments or houses, as examples of the development of the worldwide digital economy.

He further said that internet-based e-commerce only accounted for a small share of revenues in Vietnam, while businesses needed to become increasingly digitised. He also said that Peacesoft had digitised its e-commerce services, from moving products into warehouses to payment and shipping.

GiapSchool founder and primary lecturer Giap Van Duong said that the rise of the digital economy was an inevitable trend. His model had been carried out in many countries and online courses had seen much support from professors and growing participation by students.

However, Duong admitted that the implementation of the model in Vietnam faced many difficulties, such as teacher shortages. "There are only a small number of talents in Vietnam who have excellent e-teaching methods," he said.

The conference is one of activities that are part of the "Support programme for businesses and handicraft villages to apply e-commerce to boost sales and exports" project carried out by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).-VNA