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Economy

Vietnam's e-commerce market set to swell 150% in 5 years

Consumer-to-consumer sales via Facebook drive recent boom

HANOI -- The Vietnamese e-commerce market is expected to soar 150% to $10 billion by 2022, thanks to broader adoption of smartphones and growing use of Facebook as an online marketplace.

The market stands at $4 billion -- or 30 times smaller than Japan's -- but has been expanding around 20% per year. The growth estimate comes from the Vietnam E-commerce Association.

Facebook has become a popular e-commerce medium in Vietnam. The company is said to have nearly 40 million users in the country, some of whom have thousands of friends on the service. Many of the users feel comfortable buying from friends of friends. More than 50 individuals earn over $1 million a year this way, an official at a Vietnamese Facebook subsidiary said.

Annual Vietnamese e-commerce spending per capita rose 22% to about $160 last year, with many shopping for big-ticket items such as appliances and imported clothing. Though distribution had been an issue, Uber-style smartphone apps have emerged that let customers pick a company to deliver their purchases. Shipping networks have improved as well.

Vietnam is considering taxing e-commerce purchases, but doing so would be difficult because shoppers would have to report their purchases voluntarily.

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