The crisis of consumer confidence in e-commerce is not over. According to the central bank, e-commerce companies have embezzled Rs 8,050 crore through fraud. On the other hand, the government has so far returned about Tk 57 crore to the customer through initiative. The Ministry of Commerce has set a deadline of March 31 to repay the remaining amount. But the companies did not respond. Preparations are being made to take legal action against them. The final decision will be taken at a meeting of the government’s technical committee on e-commerce this week. This information has been found in the relevant sources.a
When asked, AH Safiquzzaman, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Head, E-Commerce Cell, told Jugantar that a list was being compiled of companies which had not returned their money within the stipulated time. The list will be handed over to law enforcement. He added that a meeting of the government’s technical committee on e-commerce would be held next week to decide what further action could be taken against them.
In this regard, Shahabuddin Shipon, vice-president of E-Cab, an organization of e-commerce companies, told Jugantar that the government should have taken the opportunity given to the customers by giving them a refund. Could have taken advantage of this opportunity. It remains to be seen what kind of action the government will take against them. However, the e-commerce sector should not be harmed, it should be noted.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, at least 35 e-commerce companies have gone into hiding without paying their customers. Notable among these are Aladdin’s Lamp, Adian Mart, Needs, Twentyfour Ticket.com, Falguni Shop.com, Green Bangla, Nirapada.com, Ehsan Group, Rapid Cash, Chalantika.com, Quick Online, E-Loan App, Bajaj Collection, Excellent Word And Consumers, Supam Products, Q World Marketing and RST World. Many of the owners of these companies have migrated to neighboring India. Some are preparing to cross the border into India. They are now secretly monitoring what kind of action the Ministry of Commerce will take and with its own sources.
A senior Commerce Ministry official said strict action would be taken against those who did not return the embezzled money to customers despite being given a chance. Maybe they will return the money or they will go to jail. Cheating will not be tolerated under any circumstances. A list has already been created. The names of about 35 companies have been included there. These companies have cheated directly with the customers. Now there will be a meeting of the technical committee. From there, the list will be handed over to law enforcement. Then they will go into action against them. Initially there has been a decision.
It is learned that e-commerce and Facebook-based merchants in Bangladesh were limited to between Rs 500 crore and Rs 550 crore per month. According to the report of Bangladesh Bank, between March and June 2021, only 25 institutions increased the turnover to Tk 6,050 crore. Notably, e-Orange has embezzled Tk 1,100 crore, E-Valley Tk 1,000 crore, Dhamaka Tk 803 crore and SPC World Tk 150 crore. Besides, Ehsan Group has seized Rs 110 crore, Nirapada.com Rs 6 crore, Chalantika Rs 31 crore, Supam Products Rs 50 crore and Q World Marketing Rs 15 crore. Apart from this, there are many other companies which have silently taken crores of rupees from the customers in the name of e-commerce.
If the Ministry of Commerce and the Central Bank take initiative to stop the fraud of e-commerce companies, that transaction has come down to Tk 508 crore from July 1 to October 14 last year. Besides, Tk 581 crore was blocked at the payment gateway of Bangladesh Bank. Then the Ministry of Commerce took the initiative to release the money stuck in the payment gateway customer. According to the latest estimates, the affected customers have received around Tk 56 crore from January 24 to March 15.
It is learned that all e-commerce companies have used Software Shop Limited (SSL), Cash, Foster Corporation, Bikash and Suryamukhi Pay Limited to collect money from customers. Customers use these payment gateways to pay for their products. According to the central bank, between March and June last year, consumers paid Rs 2,648 crore to various e-commerce companies using SSL for purchasing goods. As of January 31, the company had about Tk 69 crore stuck. Out of this, from January 24 to March 15, customers have returned about Tk 15 crore. Besides, customers have paid Tk 1,740 crore through mobile banking cash between March and June. Currently, About Tk 20 crore is stuck near the mobile banking services company. Customers paid Rs 729 crore for purchases through Foster Corporation, a payment gateway company. As of January 31, about Tk 363 crore was stuck near the gateway. The company has returned Tk 42 crore to its customers till March 15.
Besides, e-commerce platforms have received Rs 352 crore through the development of the country’s largest mobile banking service provider. Now about 5 crore rupees is stuck with development.
The e-commerce companies involved in the refund process are: Thale.com, Anandabazar, Wicom.com, Bangladesh Deal, Alesha Mart, Qcom, Shrestha.com, Alif World, Dalal Plus, Booboom.com and Dhamaka.com.
Sources further said that 41 cases have been filed against 15 e-commerce companies on behalf of the customers. 110 people have been accused in the case and 36 people have been arrested so far. Notable among these are E-Valley, E-Orange, Sirajganj Shop and Ring ID. There are also allegations of money laundering in this case. However, due to the lawsuit, no initiative has been taken to return the money of the customer who is stuck with these organizations. The matter will be decided in court.
According to relevant sources, the size of e-commerce market in Bangladesh has increased by 16 percent in 2020. At present there is a market of about 20 thousand crore taka in this sector. Stakeholders believe that the country’s e-commerce sector will reach over Tk 25,000 crore by 2023. The use of technology in e-commerce organizations during the Covid-19 epidemic has led to a significant increase in the purchase and sale of essentials and medicines. However, out of the total entrepreneurs in this sector, only 6 to 8 percent entrepreneurs have got success in business activities.