The commerce ministry sent a letter to police headquarters asking for a list of e-commerce companies that have cases filed against them.
After receiving the list, customers of companies which do not have any cases filed against them, will be reimbursed with money currently stuck in payment gateways, said AHM Shafiquzzaman, additional secretary in the commerce ministry and head of the Digital Commerce Cell.
After an inter-ministerial meeting at the secretariat on Tuesday, Shafiquzzaman said, "When it comes to reimbursing customers of companies that have cases against them, we will ask for case by case guidance from the court. Panel lawyers from the ministry will take the initiative and customers will receive their money as per court directives.
Speaking about beleaguered e-commerce platform Qcoom, the additional secretary said, up until 30 June, Foster, Qcoom's payment gateway, has paid Tk587 crore to the company. Some Tk394 crore of Qcoom is currently stuck with Foster, adding that the top executives of Qcoom have been arrested already.
A separate case has been filed against Foster and the money that is stuck cannot be reimbursed until the case is settled, he added.
"Right now our biggest concern is reimbursing those whose money is stuck, but as long as we do not clear some technical difficulties, we cannot complete the reimbursement process," Shafiquzzaman said.
According to the Bangladesh Bank, from July to 14 October, e-commerce companies did not deliver goods worth Tk214 crore, all of which had been paid for by their customers. Of the sum, Tk166 crore belongs to Qcoom, which has been confiscated by the Bangladesh Bank. The rest of the money belongs to customers of other companies.
At Tuesday's meeting, ministry authorities also spoke with representatives of Visa and MasterCard. They discussed whether service providers could somehow hold payments until customers receive their products.
The meeting talked about whether the postal department can deliver products through a central delivery system alongside private courier services. The meeting also decided to require e-commerce companies to be registered and to start issuing unique business identification numbers to the companies from January.