Monday, October 21, 2019 | ePaper

e-commerce booms beyond regulatory oversight

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Lack of monitoring and transparency dog the booming e-commerce that has grown by leaps and bounds to Tk 10 billion in annual sales.  
Customers prefer 'cash-on-delivery' over online payment which poses the risk of tax evasion and also causes lack of transparency in the transactions. It is sometimes hard to ensure consumers' rights in cases of cheating, low quality or expired products as there is no regulatory authority to discipline the sector.
The online business in the country began in 2011. Bangladesh Bank initiated the National Payment Switch which opened the
online payment system helping e-commerce operators and customers alike.
The overall online business has crossed Tk 10 billion in annual sales, Abdul Wahed Tamal, general secretary of the executive committee of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, told  
There are around 2,000 e-commerce sites and 50,000 Facebook-based outlets delivering almost 30,000 products a day. At present, Dhaka, Chattogram and Gazipur account for 80 percent of online sales. There is no regulatory oversight over most of the products sold via Facebook.
The government introduced the National Digital Commerce Policy to regulate the sector in 2018 but a regulatory structure for e-commerce is yet to be initiated.
"We need a monitoring authority for e-commerce to bring discipline to the sector," Consumers Association of Bangladesh President Golam Rahman told
"We don't have such regulatory authority at the moment but we're contemplating the issue. We'll do something soon," said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
Two students of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology conducted a survey on the online market in October last year where 80 percent of the respondents said online shopping saves their time. On the other hand, 60 percent said that online shopping takes more time and it is risky too.
Almost all of the respondents believed online trading is a new concept and the payment system should be upgraded for the convenience of the customers. Online market sells a wide range of products starting from perishable goods like fish, meat, vegetable to grocery items, clothes, furniture, cosmetics, jewellery and even motorcar.

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