The e-commerce platform Evaly owes around Tk311 crore to more than 2 lakh customers, according to a reply to a commerce ministry show-cause notice submitted by the company's Managing Director Mohammad Rassel.
Rassel said the amount piled up in customer claims until 15 July.
He, however, claimed his company continues to have a bond of trust with its customers.
Evaly got the money in advance payments by luring people with heavy discounts on products on its site and promising delivery in 7-45 days. Buyers, however, are yet to receive the items they ordered.
And the refund cheques given to customers have bounced because of an insufficient fund in Evaly's bank account.
According to a probe report submitted by the Bangladesh Bank in June, Evaly's burden of payment to customers amounted to Tk214 crore while the e-commerce platform itself has disclosed its burden to be Tk97 crore more than that.
"A buyer may place one or more orders. Most of the [Evaly's] customers have placed several orders over the last two years and six months and got [items] delivered successfully," Evaly CEO Rassel said in his response letter.
During the delivery process, Evaly gets items from its own warehouse and delivers them through a third party or company, according to the letter. "About 12-15% of all orders are delivered this way. The remaining products ordered are delivered by sellers or suppliers at their own risk. These sellers or suppliers are also dependent on delivery companies."
When different companies produce proofs of deliveries made, the Evaly system shows the items delivered, the CEO of the digital marketplace said.
"We have to consider items delivered" when customers do not communicate with Evaly directly within a certain period of time over not receiving any item, he said.
Since the inception of Evaly in 2018, as many as 70 lakh orders have been delivered, Mohammad Rassel said, adding that a few buyers had not received their products, which was unexpected.
"We will be able to deliver all the orders if time is given and a business-friendly environment persists. For the overall development of e-commerce and trust of customers and suppliers, an environment conducive to business is significant," he added.
As of 15 July, the total liabilities of the e-commerce platform, including advance payments taken from customers, debts to suppliers and other business debts, amounted to Tk543 crore. There is an additional debt of Tk1 crore for shareholder equity, says a statement submitted to the commerce ministry on Wednesday.
Evaly's liability statement did not separately show the amount of debts owed to customers and merchants.
The total value of its movable and immovable assets is Tk121 crore, according to Evaly.
If all the assets are sold, the company will be able to clear only 22% of its debts. The remaining more than Tk422 crore will stand as deficit. In the balance sheet of the company submitted to the commerce ministry, Evaly has shown Tk422.62 crore, close to the deficit, as the brand value of the company.
But experts say otherwise.
Dhaka University Marketing Department Chairman Professor Mizanur Rahman told The Business Standard that the actual brand value of Evaly was negative, because the business model the company was following was not sustainable.
On the contrary, with the huge amount of liability that Evaly has created in just two years, it is not possible for the company to generate any assets in the future.
"If Evaly now wants to sell a product of Tk100 at even Tk50, buyers will not be interested. There is no scope for a company, which cannot pay its customers, to have a positive brand value."