Allow any residential address to be used to register online business

For many, one of the sure signs that a smart nation is emerging is the proliferation of online businesses.

Small and medium-sized enterprises, professionals and speciality services will thrive with virtual offices in cyberspace.

We can make this happen by making some changes to how a business is established.

Currently, when registering a business, special approval is required if a person wishes to use an HDB residential address as his business address.

We should do away with this restriction and allow anyone's residential address to be used - whether HDB or private - to register a cyber business entity.

Cyber business owners should also be required to display their photos on their business websites so it will be clear who can be held responsible for customer complaints.

With this approach, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority would be able to collect additional annual business registration fees.

There would be an increase in the number of self-employed entrepreneurs with registered business entities, who would be paying income tax.

The proliferation of cyber businesses would bring business reorganisation. Courier services, home deliveries and segmented customer-centric services would become commonplace.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Allow any residential address to be used to register online business'. Print Edition | Subscribe