At last week's meeting at the House of Representatives, there were several bills introduced which may not have gotten a lot of public attention, but could help to make doing business in Belize a little easier. Among these was the bill for an act to provide regulations on transfer of money electronically. According to Prime Minister John Brice�o, it is a piece of legislations that the banking sector has been clamoring for.

Prime Minister John Brice�o

"The electronic transaction bill goes in line with Plan Belize. It seeks to facilitate transactions electronically by recognizing and validating the legality of electronic documents in an effort to promote electronic commerce and lessen the administrative burdens associated with doing business without compromising the legal integrity of the process. In many instances, as it is right now, some of these transactions are still not legally recognized because it is done electronically. The aim here is to address the legal aspects of electronic contracts; the use of electronic signatures and issues relating to authentication and non-repudiation of these contracts. In effect, we are saying that with a click of a button you are singing a legal document or a legal contract between companies or between persons. We are hoping that by doing this we can speed up the process to remove these exceptions where they exist for transactions such as deeds - you had to do it in person - we would be able to do it electronically; negotiable instruments; trust and statutory declarations. With the electronic transaction bill all of this can now be done electronically."

The bill is also designed to clamp down on electronic transfer and credit card fraud and creates a series of offenses.

Prime Minister John Brice�o

"This bill provides for the regulation of transfer of money through electronic means by use of bank cards, credit cards, smart cards; online banking transfers and mobile commerce which is important with the use of phone to make these transactions; for the purpose of instructing or authorizing a financial institution to debit or credit a card holder's account when anything of value is purchased. The bill creates a number of offences related to theft, forgery and other dishonest use of credit card, debit card, bank card, smart card or the number and data associated with such card or a bank account. It is intended to build user confidence in electronic commerce and electronic transfer. The bill was drafted to be technologically neutral so that the same offences whether committed at a shop in Belize at an electronic terminal or services online apply in a similar manner."

This bill has been forwarded to the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee.

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