A panel of experts has urged the government to solve the challenges in the e-commerce sector through the legal framework of the company act.
They also urged the policymakers to refrain from investing public money in fraudulent e-commerce firms to solve the crisis.
The recommendations emerged at a virtual dialogue on ‘Challenges in the E-commerce sector: What should be done’, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday, according to a press statement.
The e-commerce sector is facing serious challenges due to the fraudulent behaviours of a number of E-commerce businesses in the recent period and the confidence of customers in the sector has also been eroded. The CPD organised the dialogue to discuss what should be done over the crisis.
CPD’s Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan delivered special comments at the dialogue. He commented that such scams arise due to a lack of governance in the sector.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of chaldal.com Waseem Alim, Chief Executive Officer of Bdjobs.com Limited A K M Fahim Mashroor, Chief of Staff of ShopUp Md Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, Managing Partner of Asix BD Afsana Asif, Managing Director and CEO of BRAC Bank Limited Selim R F Hussain, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) Muhammad Abdul Wahed Tomal and Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam addressed the dialogue as panellists.
The experts have shared their comments and made suggestions to overcome the challenges.
They suggested the amendment and implementation of existing laws and regulations for taking actions against fraudulent e-commerce organisations.
Enhancement of institutional capacity of the relevant organisations and departments through sufficient and skilled human resources and adoption of technology was underscored at the dialogue.
Coordination among the various institutions, law enforcing bodies and other relevant organisations should be increased and the role of these bodies needs to be clearly defined, they opined.
The dialogue also suggested regular collection and dissemination of e-commerce business data to increase accountability of these businesses and to make customers aware of the activities of the businesses.
They stressed increasing awareness among the e-commerce customers so that they behave responsibly and do not become victims of fraudulence.
The panel of experts urged private associations, like the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), to assess sustainability and monitor the operations of a firm before giving membership.
They urged the government to solve the problem through the legal framework of the company act instead of by investing public money in these fraudulent companies.
CPD’s Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun moderated the session. She noted that e-commerce has a huge potential for job creation and economic growth.
“The sector has flourished due to increased internet connectivity and demand of the consumers. However, the sector is new and should be guided by appropriate policies,” she added.
Waseem Alim commented that the existing framework for the e-commerce sector is sufficient and a new regulatory body is not required.
He mentioned that starting a new business is already difficult, additional regulations will discourage new businesses.
A K M Fahim Mashroor echoed with Alim and recommended the strengthening of monitoring in this sector by involved institutions like the central bank.
He also added that institutions ensuring consumer rights need to enforce the regulations strictly.
Adding to this, Md Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan stated that the advance payments to e-commerce businesses are made through payment gateways. Therefore, there are transaction records available to monitor institutions and such data should be utilised to track any activity indicative of fraud.
Giving the example of e-commerce businesses in other countries, Afsana Asif said that there is no tracking mechanism of product delivery in Bangladesh and also mentioned the lack of prompt customer care services.
Selim RF Hussain opined that the recent fraudulent e-commerce businesses seem to have turned into investment schemes for some people and this should have been intervened earlier.
He also mentioned that there is a lack of coordination among relevant stakeholders.
Similarly, Muhammad Abdul Wahed Tomal mentioned how recommendations were already given on risky models of many E-commerce businesses but no actions were taken due to a lack of coordination between monitoring institutions.
“There is uncertainty on how the customers may get their money back,” said Tomal.
Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam mentioned that the existing law and regulations are sufficient to overcome the challenges in the e-commerce sector but these will not be effective without proper implementation.
Therefore, he recommended the capacity building of monitoring institutions.
Researchers, development practitioners, academics, business leaders, civil society activists, international development partners and journalists were also present at the dialogue and shared their opinions.