The commerce ministry will bring all e-commerce platforms under a business identification programme this year to rein in frauds and irregularities in online shopping, says a top ministry official.
"Even Facebook-based smaller e-business platforms will have to get the unique business identification number. Any online market platform without the identification will be shut down," said Hafizur Rahman, chief of the Central Digital Commerce Cell at the Ministry of Commerce.
He said the platforms will have to apply for the unique business identification number (UBIN) online and the ministry will provide the certification after a careful inspection. For this, a2i and the ICT Division have developed software.
Hafizur Rahman, also an additional secretary at the commerce ministry, told The Business Standard that they have taken up the certification initiative to ensure transparency in online shopping and curb fraudulent activities. The Cabinet Division has already approved the process.
"I expect the unique identification programme will be officially launched within this year," added the commerce ministry official.
Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh has also said one must obtain the unique business identification number to do e-commerce business.
"Websites and Facebook pages of those who will not obtain will be shut," he told reporters after a high-level meeting on e-commerce presided over by Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday.
The ministry comes up with the initiative in the face of widespread allegations of frauds and embezzlement amounting to several thousands of crores of Taka against top market players such as Evaly, Eorange and Dhamaka.
Investigations reveal the online platforms have been luring customers offering huge discounts on products. They grew on advances from customers against a promise to deliver products on time. But complaints against the rogue market players mount as the customers are neither getting the products nor a refund.
According to the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, 19,304 complaints against various e-commerce platforms were filed with it as of 31 August this year.
Of these complaints, 14,322 were against Evaly and 19 other platforms – 7,138 against Evaly, and 2,643 against Eorange.
Facebook page-based businesses face 4,982 complaints.
Hafizur Rahman said they will give the identification number after thoroughly scrutinising the promotional campaigns, customer reviews on products and deliveries, and feedback posted on the e-commerce websites or their Facebook pages.
"The e-businesses will have to upload and display the identification number on their websites and Facebook pages so that customers understand the company is doing business complying with the guidelines," he noted.
The additional secretary said the commerce ministry will task the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection with regularly monitoring whether or not any e-commerce company is operating within regulations after receiving the identification. For this, the directorate will have a separate monitoring team.
The members of the team will regularly review the offers, customer comments and feedback on the websites and Facebook pages of the e-commerce companies.
The Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection will immediately suspend or cancel the activities of a company if there are allegations of customer harassment against it.