Indonesia’s Social Media E-Commerce Ban: Navigating Regulatory Changes

Posted by Written by Giulia Interesse Reading Time: 4 minutes

Indonesia’s ban on social media e-commerce transactions will significantly affect key players such as TikTok and businesses dependent on these platforms. It is imperative to grasp the nuances of the new regulations and navigate the licensing framework for obtaining an e-commerce license.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade (MOT) has implemented a ban on social media e-commerce transactions starting September 27, 2023.

According to the Indonesian government, the objective is clear: to shield traditional merchants from predatory pricing on these platforms. To engage in e-commerce, platforms must now secure a separate license. Additionally, a minimum price of US$100 for certain overseas products and compliance with local quality standards are mandatory.

The article delves into the ban’s regulatory changes and implications, along with the Indonesian government’s broader vision for a regulated e-commerce landscape.

Regulatory changes

Indonesia’s ban on social media e-commerce transactions encompasses several key regulatory adjustments, including:

  • Separate e-commerce license: Platforms in the e-commerce game must now get a separate license. This move is about bringing structure and accountability to online transactions, setting a standard for quality.
  • Minimum price regulation for overseas products: Specific products purchased directly from overseas are now subject to a minimum price of US$100. This regulation is a strategic measure to prevent unrealistically low prices, fostering a fair environment for local businesses and consumers alike.
  • Local quality standards compliance: Every product available on e-commerce platforms must adhere to rigorous local quality standards. This requirement ensures that online products meet local expectations, bolstering consumer trust and maintaining market integrity.

Indonesia’s e-commerce license

In Indonesia’s e-commerce sector, obtaining an e-commerce business license is a pivotal step for entrepreneurs, startups, foreign investors, and established businesses. The Ministry of Information (MOI) issues a crucial certification known as the Penyelenggara Sistem Elektronik (PSE) certificate, validating that a company meets prescribed data protection essentials and maintains electronic systems in line with safety standards.

This license is indispensable for a range of entities, including:

  • Entrepreneurs and startups: For those venturing into the world of online selling, securing an e-commerce license is not just a legal requirement but a foundational step toward establishing a legitimate online presence.
  • Foreign investors: Foreign investors eyeing the thriving Indonesian e-commerce market must navigate the regulatory landscape by obtaining the necessary license, ensuring compliance, and fostering a conducive business environment.
  • Established businesses and SMEs: Even established businesses and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need to ensure they comply with Indonesian regulations. The e-commerce license becomes a crucial tool for maintaining legal standing in the online marketplace.

Obtaining an Electronic System Provider license

In addition to completing the business registration process in Indonesia, obtaining an Electronic System Provider (PSE) license is an essential requirement. This meticulous procedure, spanning approximately two weeks, adds a layer of regulatory compliance to your e-commerce venture.

This license acts as a stamp of approval, verifying that your business operates a secure electronic system and prioritizes the safeguarding of customer data.

Types of Indonesia’s e-commerce license

Indonesia categorizes e-commerce business licenses into three major types, each tailored to the specific nature of the business activity:

  • General business license: Encompassing a broad spectrum of e-commerce activities, the general business license is a versatile option suitable for a variety of business entities engaged in e-commerce operations.
  • Industrial business license: This license is specific to e-commerce entities involved in industrial activities. It caters to businesses with a more specialized focus, ensuring compliance within the industrial sector of the e-commerce landscape.
  • Construction business license: Tailored for those engaged in construction-related e-commerce activities, this license is designed to meet the regulatory requirements specific to businesses involved in the construction aspect of the e-commerce sector.

Legal basis

The issuance of Indonesian business licenses operates within a comprehensive legal framework, primarily governed by Regulation 24/2018. This regulation serves as the backbone for overseeing the issuance of business licenses, ensuring that businesses across various entities, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability companies, adhere to the regulatory landscape.

Validity period

The validity period of an Indonesian business license typically extends up to 30 years. However, businesses must remain vigilant, actively monitoring the validity of their licenses, and ensuring timely renewal. Failure to renew licenses within the stipulated timeframe may lead to penalties, fines, or potential disruptions to business operations, underscoring the importance of proactive compliance with Indonesian regulations.

Impact and opportunities

The recent ban on social media e-commerce transactions in Indonesia is ushering in a period of adjustment across the nation’s digital landscape.

At the heart of Indonesia’s recent regulatory changes lies TikTok, a major player and the exclusive platform for direct in-app product sales. As the second-largest global market for TikTok, boasting a staggering 125 million monthly active users, the imposed ban undeniably ushers in a set of challenges for the popular platform.

TikTok’s ambitious venture, TikTok Shop, unveiled in 2021, swiftly carved its place in Indonesia’s e-commerce realm, accounting for about five percent of the total e-commerce transactions valued at around 230 trillion Indonesian rupiah (US$14.65 billion) in 2022. The ban disrupts TikTok’s trajectory, presenting a hurdle but also sparking an opportunity for recalibration and adaptation.

Beyond the realm of market shares and financial considerations, the ban prompts a broader reevaluation of corporate strategies. It’s vital to recognize that its impact extends to the livelihoods of millions, including six million sellers and seven million affiliate creators anchored in TikTok Shop. For them, it signifies more than a mere operational shift; it hints at a potential pivot toward new income streams and untapped opportunities.

Examining the broader economic landscape reveals the government’s clear intent to shield local businesses. However, striking a delicate balance between protectionism and maintaining a vibrant level of competition becomes imperative. The absence of TikTok may trigger adjustments in the e-commerce market, opening the door for innovative solutions and fresh entrants. Despite the challenges, this dynamic shift could foster a more diversified and resilient e-commerce ecosystem.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), deeply embedded in the e-commerce fabric, encounter challenges but are also presented with an opportunity to explore alternative platforms. The urgency now lies in the swift migration of these businesses, ensuring their sustainability and contributing to the evolving market landscape.

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