In the backdrop of current e-commerce scenario of the country, entrepreneurs and experts opined that the e-commerce sector does not need a new act and a separate regulator.
Speaking at a virtual dialogue organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday, they also said the existing regulations and implementation of those with an increased monitoring of e-commerce activities would help bring discipline in the growing sector.
The dialogue moderated by CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun discussed the recent growth, fraudulent behaviors of a number of e-commerce platforms, the recent changes in policies and ways to overcome the challenges.
Waseem Alim, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the top online grocery shop Chaldal, said it took four-five years for them to gain people's trust and after the recent cases of taking advances from customers and not delivering products or refunding their money is hurting online businesses as they find it tough to gain the confidence of new customers.
Like other countries, Bangladesh does not need a separate act and a regulator to govern e-commerce business, he opined, adding that an increased monitoring by existing government authorities would work better to bring discipline in the sector.
Fahim Mashroor, founder of a first-generation e-commerce platform AjkerDeal, said the Directorate of National Consumer Right Protection (DNCRP) should be strengthened and accountable more to resolve the current issues.
He further said Bangladesh Bank failed to prevent financial anomalies in e-commerce as the transactions took place within their jurisdiction and the central bank's indifference was apparent.
He stated that industry people warned the government three years ago about the risk of a situation that has emerged recently.
"We addressed the lack of transparency and issues within the business model of Evaly and other similar platform then and no action was taken," said Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of the E-commcerce Association of Bangladesh.
There is a lack of coordination between the DNCRP, Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bank and other stakeholders, he observed.
The country has laws to ensure consumer protection, fair competition and the existing laws could solve the problems, said Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam.
Lack of the relevant institutions' capacity and enforcement of the laws is apparent, said the legal expert.
He also opined that since the industry does not feel the need for a separate act and a new regulator, the government should not go for these as new institutions might further weaken the relevance of the existing ones.
Professor Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the CPD, blamed the lack of good governance in the country for the embezzlement of e-commerce customers' money.
Echoing other speakers, Wasim Aleem said the problem is not with e-commerce, it is rather observed in many sectors in Bangladesh where someone can take advances from the people to deliver something and later does not make it happen.
He mentioned commodity and real estate sectors for example.
Md Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, chief of staff of a business-to-business e-commerce ShopUp, questioned the banking sector's role to help prevent the financial misconducts that took place in e-commerce as huge transactions to defraud customers took place through the banking channel.
He urged for a strong monitoring of e-commerce activities.
Lack of monitoring into some errant e-commerce sites including Evaly, Dhamaka and e-orange has left over a million customers and several thousand e-commerce merchants defrauded as the sites owe several thousand crore of taka to them and now the owners are either in jail or absconded.
Selim R F Hossain, managing director of Brac Bank, said whatever happened in some e-commerce sites was due to mistakes by every stakeholder and now it is most important to recover the money of the people who were cheated by the controversial e-commerce companies.