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eTrade Alliance Webinar Series: 
Data Transfer and Governance

Watch the full webinar here

By Morgan Wilsmann and Erica Vambell

The second installment in the eTrade Alliance’s webinar series focused on Data Transfer, Privacy, and Governance and was moderated by eTrade Alliance Technical Director Kati Suominen, with panelists from Alliance partners Google, Mastercard, Visa, and AMVO.

Dr. Suominen kicked off the webinar by presenting Nextrade Group’s research on how SMEs are using data to engage in cross-border trade.

Key takeways:

  • Firms and especially online seller - exporters export and import data: data transfer is critical for MSMEs that export using ecommerce.

  • Yet firms in regions like Africa are concerned about: compliance with foreign data privacy rules and regulatory fragmentation.

  • In general, developing country firms see CPTPP- and USMCA-style binding rules to enable cross-border data flows, protect data privacy, and ban server localization as highly positive solutions to these challenges.

The panel discussed how their respective companies are supporting SMEs in leveraging data for cross border ecommerce.

Dr. Barbara Kotschwar, the Executive Director from Visa’s Economic Empowerment Institute, described survey data results indicating how small businesses – especially those that are women-owned – that utilize digital tools tend to be more resilient and more likely to export, and especially to more diverse markets.

Key takeways:

  • There has been a large influx of women-owned enterprises during the pandemic, however these businesses tend to face many constraints still, such as lack of access to capital, and sometimes have to undertake a larger number of procedures to establish and maintain their business than men-owned businesses.

  • Women owned businesses tend to be younger, not last as long, and be overall smaller. However, despite these setbacks, what we have seen is that these young women owned businesses are taking advantage of digital tools to thrive in their own markets as well as to export.


Hear more from Barbara on Visa’s work to identify the primary pain points for small businesses and especially women-owned small businesses, and the importance of promoting digital economic cooperation for policy makers:

Dr. Barbara Kotschwar discusses Visa's work identifying challenges for women owned small businesses.

Sahra English, Vice President of Global Public Policy at Mastercardprovided perspective on how Mastercard enables small businesses around the world, especially in hard-to-reach markets, to access the digital market, increase their ecommerce capabilities, and prevent cyber attacks.

Key takeaways:

  • Access to data is critical in particular for small businesses, especially when exporting across markets because it helps prevent cyber attacks and fraud.

  • Yet small businesses are increasingly a huge target for cyber-attacks – with attacks on small businesses growing over 400 percent in 2020 alone. To help combat this issue, Mastercard created a trust center designed for SMEs to assess their digital footprint and identify cyber vulnerabilities.

  • It is critical for Mastercard to have access to global datasets to prevent fraud from happening.

Watch below to learn more about what steps Mastercard is taking to enable small businesses to succeed in ecommerce and make digital payments more secure globally:

Sahra English discusses Mastercard's initiatives to enable small business in the digital market.

Victoria Albanesi, Founder of Albanesi Tech Legal Consulting based in Mexico discussed data localization concerns in Mexico, and how they may impact crossborder digital trade for SMEs.

Key takeaways:

  • The Mexican private sector is concerned that Mexican authorities are implementing data localization measures that would in turn be incompatible with the USMCA.

  • Localization would have a negative impact on competition, giving examples of fintech companies that are hindered by these measures.

  • Data is crucial to SMEs to engage in international ecommerce.

  • Having access to data not only to enter the market but also to scale and maintain their digital presence is essential for SMEs.


Below, Victoria explains what regulatory frameworks are needed to enable data transfer flows:

Victoria Albanesi discusses the importance of access to data for SMEs to grow and scale.

Michael Murungi, Lead for Government Affairs and Public Policy in Eastern Africa for Google, describes the state of digital integration and cross border data flows on the continent of Africa and in the context of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement’s (AfCFTA) ecommerce protocol.

Key takeaways:

  • Africa is moving in the direction where it will likely have a robust free trade agreement for the entire continent that has strong provisions of digital trade, and sees USMCA as a good example for AfCFTA.

  • The African Union considers it important ensure cross border data flows, open digital markets, and free access to information, however some work still needs to be done on traditional barriers such as challenges in communications and transport infrastructure, digital skills literacy, and tariff barriers.

  • There is currently still fragmentation of data privacy laws, with many countries not yet having data protection laws, and varying opinions on cross border flows and data localization.

  • Many governments have concerns, but many also recognize that it would not be possible to have increased trade within, across, and outside of Africa without cross border flow of data.

  • Also essential for trade growth are open digital markets, free access to information, open government data, and being open to emerging technologies like AI and blockchain.


See Michael explain data privacy laws and digital integration in Africa below:

Michael Murungi explains the movement toward a continental trade agreement with digital trade provisions in Africa.

Watch below to learn more from each of our panelists about the solutions some of the largest ecommerce actors are taking to overcome these challenges:

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