Ministry Orders Hardware, Software Companies to Register

The Telecommunications Ministry has begun disseminating information about a new requirement for technology companies to register for a license with the ministry.

A broad range of companies, from tech startups and fintech companies to shops hawking keyboards, memory sticks and mouses, are affected by the change.

In a sub-decree released last month, the ministry asked all companies that fall within information and communications technology (ICT) to apply for a license, but some entrepreneurs were unsure how it would apply to their businesses.

According to the document signed on July 21, the ministry will require businesses who make or distribute computer hardware or software and companies related to technology to apply for a license.

The existing companies in ICT will have a full year to register, while any company that is new to the industry would have to fill out the license application right away.

The new requirement launched as the Economy and Finance Ministry’s tax department is pushing to get all possible taxpayers on the books.

Companies can apply to get a certificate by providing proof of registration as a business plus details about their operations, imports and exports, while companies seeking a license must also present a business and technical plan showing they can guarantee transparency and responsible practices, according to the sub-decree.

The ministry held its first informational meeting on the requirements last week.

Telecommunications Ministry spokesman Khov Makara said officials would hold more informational workshops for ICT businesses, but he declined to provide further comment.

The CEO and co-founder of microfinance online banking platform Morakot, Khun Sophorth, said his company’s lawyers were reviewing the document. His company will apply for the license, but Mr. Sophorth does not understand why his software company and computer hardware dealers need to apply to the same licensing program. “For security, we need to make sure the software is working to protect the client, but the hardware has nothing to do with that,” he said, adding he did not have to apply for a special license to operate his software business in Singapore.

Oknha Sok Piseth, CEO and co-founder of electronics vendor GGear, hailed the ministry’s attempt at organizing the ICT industry. “I hope my government will execute this policy strictly to allow the business to operate fairly in the market,” he said in an email.

Leap Sok, founder and managing director of System Experts, said he also supported the ministry’s attempt to gather information on the ICT businesses in operation. “If they have 100 companies doing hardware and 20 doing software, maybe the government would have to try to improve its policy appropriately,” he said.

Mr. Sok said he was aware that his company would have to apply within the year, but he was concerned that the registration process would be an extra burden on small businesses. “The type of thing I would like to see the government be able to say is if you are a small business you are encouraged and will have assistance,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Thim Rachna)

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