What is a digital service?

Last updated: April 04, 2018

The following elements together form a digital service:

  • A service (i.e. not goods) 

  • Delivered via the internet, or an electronic network 

  • Supply is essentially automated, or involves minimal human intervention 

  • Difficult to perform the service in the absence of information technology

Here are some common examples of digital services: 

  • Software products and software upgrades

  • Software provided as a service (‘SaaS’)

  • Cloud computing

  • Downloading and playing online games

  • E-books

  • Subscriptions to online content 

  • Websites, hosting, VoIP and content 

  • Music, films, images and photographs 

  • E-services

  • Access to e-markets 

  • Distance learning (pre-recorded and downloadable sessions)

And here are common examples of cases which are not classified as digital services:

  • A PDF document manually emailed by seller

  • Live webinar online

  • Software developer's contribution delivered and sold as a software development service

If a company supplies a package of services/goods, the company has to analyse the nature of the bundle and decide whether the complete package should be considered as a digital service, or each element in the bundle should be classified and treated separately.

For instance, if a company provides a packaged software and onsite support activities as a bundle, it would be reasonable to consider the packaged software as a digital service, and the onsite support activities as a professional service instead.

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