E-commerce business and related issues
Bangladesh has come a long way in building a digital Bangladesh. Significant progress has been made in various sectors of digital or information technology in the last few years as a result of strong measures taken by the government. In this case, although e-commerce is new in Bangladesh, it is not backward. Buyers are becoming more and more interested in e-commerce. Especially in the COVID-19 epidemic, many people have become interested in buying and selling at home. As a result, it is spreading very fast.
There has been widespread discussion and criticism recently against several e-commerce companies, including Evali, for delaying the delivery of goods to consumers on time with lucrative offers of huge price discounts. There were also allegations that many were deceived by E-valy's lucrative offer and in this context, Bangladesh Bank recently conducted an inspection program to monitor the activities of Evali and several serious irregularities were observed. Bangladesh Bank submitted an investigation report in this regard to the concerned department of the government and in the light of this, the government recently issued an e-commerce policy.
The sale and purchase of goods or services in the country using electronic platforms started privately in 2006. There was no government approval for online commerce then. As the use of technology has increased, so it has widened its spread rapidly and later in 2010, the government issued a notification on e-commerce of the bank. In this context, e-commerce was fully introduced in the country and from then on, the sector did not have to look back.
The future of e-commerce business is very bright in our country, and in order to keep pace with the world, we must overcome the problems in this sector and move forward. All products of the world including that of Bangladesh can now be purchased online. A lot of products are being bought and sold online every day. An audit of the e-commerce sector in 130 countries by the international organization UNCTAD shows that the number of Internet users serves as the main indicator of the location of the e-commerce sector in a country. According to a report published by the International Telecommunication Union in 2015, the growth rate of internet users in Bangladesh is 14%, but according to the BTRC report, it is 39%.
However, not much research has been done on the current state of the sector and the exact number of e-commerce industries. An audit report found that the e-commerce sector in Bangladesh is slowly improving and transactions are growing at least 10% per year. The growth of e-commerce over the last three years is about 100 percent, i.e, this sector is almost doubling every year. The number one position of e-commerce in Bangladesh is occupied by Alibaba of China. Amazon, the world's largest e-commerce company, is also showing interest in Bangladesh.
In addition, about 50,000 entrepreneurs are currently doing business on Facebook pages in Bangladesh and more than 20,000 of them are active entrepreneurs. Since e-commerce is not yet fully established across the country, buyers are being forced to shop even if they do not want to. However, in some cases, the issue of bill payment has become completely online. Such as electricity, gas bills, salaries of people at different levels across the country are being paid through full mobile banking and it has greatly reduced human sufferings.
E-commerce has become a part of the life of the common people of developed countries; but what is the potential of e-commerce in Bangladesh? While some people are sceptical about finding answers to such questions, the reality is that the potential for e-commerce in this country extends far and wide and it is bringing a new dimension during the COVID-19 virus. Undoubtedly, this virus is going to have a very bad effect on the world economy. However, the best solution is the development and expansion of e-commerce.
Not all e-commerce sites in the country are trustworthy. There are allegations that some companies do not ensure the right products, the right delivery at the right time, the right price and as a result the buyers are deceived and embarrassed.
For this reason, the Ministry of Commerce of the government has issued a guideline titled 4th July 2021 Digital Commerce Business Guidelines for conducting e-commerce business smoothly and efficiently. The guidelines have been issued to ensure transparency in e-commerce based online shopping and restore consumers' confidence to avoid customer fraud. The policy states that e-commerce companies must declare stocks of the product in advance and only advance orders for sale of the product can be taken subject to stock availability. In addition, provision has been made to ensure delivery within five days if the customer is in the same city and within the next 10 days if it is in a different city.
The seller will not receive the money before delivery of the product, the price has to be paid through Bangladesh Bank. The policy further states that in the case of online product sales, there will be no lottery opportunity for any vendor. All types of digital wallets, gift cards, cash vouchers or any other medium, which will be used as an alternative to money, must be traded with the permission of Bangladesh Bank.
Moreover, the E-Commerce Policy 2021 prohibits the conduct of multi-level marketing or network business through digital commerce. Drugs, explosives or any other prohibited items cannot be bought or sold digitally. In case of buying and selling drugs through digital, one has to get a license from the Department of Drug Administration. At the same time, in the light of the policy, Bangladesh Bank has issued a revised policy on online shopping or payment of goods and services charges of e-commerce companies and instructed all concerned banks and financial institutions to comply.
In fact, due globalization, the popularity of e-commerce shopping is increasing day by day all over the world. The fun of buying products with just a few clicks sitting at home is different, as human needs have changed over time, so has market demand. Due to the crisis of confidence in Bangladesh, the issue of purchasing products online has not yet been fully introduced. Consumers have many doubts and complaints about the transparency and accountability of their activities. In the light of the current e-commerce policy, it is important to bring back transparency and confidence for the expansion and development of this business.
The writer is a banker and