The Financial Express

Legal opinion sought to pay Tk 2.14b payback to e-commerce customers

| Updated: November 09, 2021 20:52:36

- Picture used for illustrative purpose - Picture used for illustrative purpose

The commerce ministry has sought opinion from the law ministry on legal aspects regarding repayment of over Tk 2.14 billion to e-commerce customers.

The ministry on Sunday requested the Law and Justice Division under the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.

Currently, over Tk 2.14 billion remains stuck in different payment gateways -- this amount was paid in advance by the e-commerce customers against their ordered goods, said a source in the Law and Justice Division.

On November 02, 2021, Bangladesh Bank (BB) requested the commerce ministry for payback of over Tk 2.14 billion in e-commerce customers' money stuck up in different payment gateways.

In line with the BB request, the commerce ministry sought the legal opinion to settle the issue soon.

On June 30, the central bank introduced an escrow service on payments to e-commerce platforms.

Since the issuance of a circular on October 14, 2021 over the botched e-commerce issue, over Tk 5.05 billion had been paid to the payment gateways by the customers concerned against goods they had ordered.

Of the amount, the payment gateways have already settled over Tk 2.91 billion to the online marketplaces.

The remaining over Tk 2.14 billion got stuck in the different service-providing firms, including SSL, shurjoMukhi, Foster, bKash, Nagad, and Southeast Bank Ltd.

Of the stuck-up amount, over Tk 1.65 billion of Qcoom online shopping, paid by its customers against ordered goods, has been stuck up with Foster Payments.

And over Tk 485 million has been stuck in other payment gateways, according to a central bank letter.

Earlier, in a special meeting on the troubled e-commerce sector held at the commerce ministry on October 25, 2021 with commerce minister Tipu Munshi in the chair, the government had decided to take steps to pay back Tk 2.14 billion stuck in different payment gateways to e-commerce customers in three months.

Complexities cropped up in payback of the money stuck in the payment gateways due to shutdown of operations of such e-commerce platforms concerned, it is mentioned in the central bank letter.

"The e-commerce companies may claim the amount paid to their clients by them if it is proven that they supplied earlier products to the customers concerned," says the letter sent by the Payment Systems Department of BB.

Government agencies concerned are working to pay back the money that was paid in advance by customers from July 01 until October 14, it adds.

The amount of Tk 2.14 billion has been blocked at payment gateways for not delivering goods to customers who paid various platforms for the items, a BB official said.

The government authorities concerned have taken multiple steps in the wake of various scandals by dubious e-commerce platforms such as Evaly, E-orange, Dhamaka Shopp-ing, Sirajganj Shop etc.

The cabinet division and commerce ministry have already formed a high-powered committee to bring discipline to the e-commerce sector and to resolve the problems in the sector.

Top officials of the e-commerce platforms concerned, who are allegedly involved in regularities in the name of online trade with customers concerned, are now in jail.

A process is now at the final stage to introduce unique business identification numbers (UBINs) in favour of e-commerce platforms soon.

The government has made a move to set up a regulatory authority for the country's e-commerce sector, which, experts say, holds high prospects if not squandered.

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