On 22 June 2023, the National Assembly adopted the 2023 Law on Electronic Transactions (the “LET 2023“). The LET 2023 will officially come into effect on 1 July 2024, replacing the 2005 Law on Electronic Transactions (the “LET 2005“), with several key changes as follows: 

1. Broader scope of application 

The LET 2005 is not applicable to the issuance of the following documents: land use right certificates, inheritance documents, marriage certificates, decisions on divorce, birth/death certificates, bill of exchange, and other valuable documents.

The LET 2023 has expanded its scope of application compared to the LET 2005 by stipulating that all e-transactions are covered by this law, except for cases when other laws expressly provide that transactions under such law cannot be made in form of e-transactions. In such cases, the provisions of those laws shall prevail.

2. Introduction of new regulations on the conversion between paper documents and data messages

LET 2023 introduces new provisions regarding the conversion between paper documents and data messages. Specifically:

In cases of conversion from paper documents to data messages, if the converted information meets the conditions specified in Section 1, Article 12 of the LET 2023, it will be considered a data message and hold legal validity as per the provisions of this law.

In cases of conversion from data messages to paper documents, the data message must meet the conditions outlined in Section 1, Article 12 of the LET 2023. In such cases, the legal validity of the paper document converted from data message will be considered in accordance with the relevant laws.

3. Recognition of different methods used to confirm e-transactions 

Under the provisions of the LET 2005, the confirmation of the intention of the signatory to accept a data message is only allowed to be carried out under e-signatures. Other methods such as scanned signatures, image signatures, one-time passwords (OTP), text messages (SMS), etc., were not recognized the acceptance of a signatory to a data message. This posed challenges in the execution of e-transactions in several sectors such as banking, customs, etc. 

To address this obstacle, the LET 2023 has introduced new provisions recognizing different methods, other than an e-signature, used to indicate the intention of the signatory to accept a data message. The use of these methods will be governed by relevant regulations.

4. Introduction of trust services and conditions for providing this service

The LET 2023 marks a significant milestone by freshly adopting trust services in e-transactions, including the following specific services: 

(i) Timestamp issuance service is a service for attaching time information to data messages; 

(ii) Data message certification services, including storage and verification of data message integrity, and sending and receiving of secured data messages; and

(iii) Public digital signature certification services to certify digital signatures in public activities.

These trusted services are among the conditional business lines of Vietnam. Enterprises wishing to operate this service must be legally established and operating within the territory of Vietnam. They must also meet specific requirements regarding finances, managerial and technical personnel, information systems, technical connectivity plans, and other conditions specified in Article 29 of the LET 2023 and subsequent guidance by the government after the LET 2023 takes effect.

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