What You Need To Know When Investing in South East Asia?

October 3, 2014 | Sharon Cheong

Known for having one of the strongest economies in Asia, it should come as no surprise that Malaysia is attractive to local and foreign business owners. The country offers many things including steady economic growth, attractive tax incentives, and a lively business environment. But before investing in Malaysia, it's wise to learn more about the business requirements in this country. Let's discuss some of the things that entrepreneurs should know when it comes to starting an online business in Malaysia.

First, check the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) before registering an online business. According to MCMC's Licensing Department, there's no need to register with them unless the business is in the telecommunications industry. Providing networking and SMS services fall under telecommunications, while having an online business doesn't. Meanwhile, all other small-to-medium online businesses should register with the CCM. This also includes businesses whose revenues come from Google AdSense or other pay-per-click services.

Why Register with the CCM

Registration is needed even if one is selling on an ad hoc basis through eBay or similar sites, or if the business is part-time. Any online business that earns money in Malaysia should be registered with CCM, whether it sells cookies on eBay, writes blog articles for PPC, creates animated videos for companies, and so on. Although registration doesn't ensure full protection, it does offer certification to operate in the country.

Online businesses are advised to have a properly designed website, a reliable web host, and a unique and registered domain name. Meanwhile, individual business owners are recommended to register as sole proprietors, which is the most affordable category for any business.

The Malaysian e-commerce industry is relatively new compared to that in the United States or the United Kingdom. However, there is an increasing number of e-commerce buyers in the recent years, prompting the government to set up various regulations and requirements to protect buyers from scams and frauds.

The Importance of Laws and Incentives

Bloggers and freelance writers in Malaysia have to register as business entities even if their job pays for every click or every task rather than a regular salary. However, laws are laws in Malaysia, and they should be followed no matter how strange they might sound to foreigners. Every Malaysian blogger or writer is responsible for registering with the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia and declaring personal income.

Sole proprietors who register receive some incentives. Back in 2012, there was a reduced fee of RM50 for those who registered as sole proprietor or partnership for five years. Laws and incentives change, so now that it's 2014, it's best to consult experts to find out the specific details and changes to fees and incentives. Just for reference, the standard fee for online business registration is RM60 (for partnership) and RM30 (for sole proprietorship). This should be paid on an annual basis.

Are you planning to establish a business in Malaysia? Contact Servcorp to commence with your startup. Servcorp offers Malaysian virtual offices and corporate registration services.