Transactional malpractice by a handful of online commercial operators has created an image crisis for the e-commerce sector. In consequence, as some online business operators deplored, even the bona fide e-businesses, more than 1,500 of them, according to the membership list of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, e-CAB, have now come under law-enforcement authority's scrutiny. Also, to protect customers against fraudulent practice by any online business operator, an escrow account has been created with the central bank. But the gateway (the escrow account) so created for reaching customers' payment to the online goods or service providers' end often proves to be problematic. This is so as the central bank lacks the manpower to check instantly if the customer has got delivery of the goods purchased, the online seller has often to wait more than a week to get the payment. Needless to say, it hampers the normal pace of business, as it slows down transactions.
Actually, the e-business operators are not against such transactional constraints, or the government measures to monitor them. Admittedly, to rid themselves of the current image problem, they have few options but to welcome the financial and legal oversight. But the problem is, as expressed by some e-commerce operators, the law-people sometimes enquire about their marketing policy, which is a closely guarded secret they are not willing to share with anyone. That apart, the e-business, in general, has also to overcome the trust-deficit it suffered in the market following unveiling of the massive swindle allegedly by the likes of evaly, e-orange and other such dishonest online service providers.
Commendably, to get around the setback, some e-commerce leaders have begun to raise their voice against any kind of fraudulent practice within their ranks. Further, they have called for showing zero-tolerance towards any e-business entity found defaulting on their agreed contracts with the customers. As part of housecleaning, an awareness campaign has also been launched by members of the e-CAB and some logistic outfits. Evidently, this is to encourage customers to be watchful whenever reaching any deal with a digital business portal.
Understandably, all this constitutes an exercise in damage control through giving no quarter to delinquent elements. As expected, the measure would encourage good practice by the e-commerce portals. It is believed, the moves for fair practice will go a long way towards developing a healthy ecosystem for the entire e-business community. But one needs also to keep in mind that the e-business community alone cannot be expected to ensure a foolproof environment for them to operate safely. In truth, the kind of racketeering that has rattled the fledgling e-business landscape of Bangladesh is not something unique to this form of commercial enterprise. To be fair, it is common to all kinds of business, traditional or otherwise. Now that e-commerce has some operational characteristics that are different from traditional form of business, it would necessarily require a set of rules that best suits its functional peculiarities. Unsurprisingly, the absence of such arrangements has helped the racketeers to make the most of the regulatory gap. Hopefully, in the wake of the scamsters having a field day with scandalous practices, the government, as it pledged, would come up with a legal system for e-business to operate smoothly. On this score, the government would do well to include the representatives of the sector at the planning stage of formulating a regulatory framework for the e-commerce sector.