The Thai government announced late yesterday that they will likely ban alcohol sales online, much to the dismay and confusion of most people.
The “official” reason given was that curbing alcohol sales all together will make it more difficult for underaged drinkers to have access to alcohol.
The new regulations would come into effect this year and carry a maximum fine of 10,000 baht and some prison time
We’re no expert, but we’re thinking it may be better for business owners and smaller distributors if there was a firewall of some sort that would scan a customer’s Thai ID card to verify their age. There must be a way for online alcohol distributors to keep on selling.
During Covid-19, there was a surge of online alcohol sales in between banning sales all together to encourage social distancing. The spike in sales and convenience in door-to-door delivery from just a few clicks on a smartphone meant that alcohol was easily accessible, according to Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit Pitutacha.
The news of this proposed bill comes right on the heels of another alcohol related headline last month, when an owner of a Facebook page was fined for posting pictures that seemingly encouraged alcohol consumption, which then gave way to heated debates about whether Thai netizens are allowed to post photos of alcoholic beverages.
To us, Thailand has a seemingly relaxed alcohol culture. Our culture of pubs, clubs and other forms of “entertainment venues” shows a lenient attitude towards this. It suggests that there should be a way to work around the very topic of online sales.
We are in no way encouraging underaged drinking, but there must be alternatives to banning online sales all together, particularly if it will help keep small business owners afloat and thriving in a “digital economy”.
If the very idea of ecommerce for alcoholic beverages is difficult to navigate, then perhaps we must re-think the entire digital infrastructure in order to transition into Thailand 4.0. The bottom line? We’re thinking about the business and commerce implications and how it may create a long lasting ripple effect.