The Tk214 crore stuck in payment gateways since the introduction of an escrow service for e-commerce transactions will be repaid within the next three months, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Monday.
He made the comment at a meeting he chaired at the Secretariat, where the decision to return the money was made.
The Bangladesh Bank will finalise how the payment gateways will refund the buyers.
The meeting was attended by Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mostafa Jabbar, PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman and State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak.
From the launch of the escrow services on July 1 to October 25, buyers placed orders worth Tk 214cr with e-commerce companies but did not receive any products or refunds.
Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, however, said that no decision had been taken to refund the buyers who had placed orders before July 1.
He said after the introduction of the escrow service, the money still with payment gateways will be returned.
"Buyers who paid in advance before July 1, their money has gone to the e-commerce companies. Recovering that is quite complicated. As a result, it is not possible to say anything right now about when the money will be returned," Ghosh said.
Responding to a question from reporters, the commerce minister said it was up to the court to settle the debts of Evaly. It had also constituted a board of directors in this regard and the matter will be directed by the court, with no involvement of the commerce ministry.
He said Jubok and Destiny had many assets, but those were now illegally-occupied and rented out.
There are also cases in court against the two companies and the companies' assets can be sold to repay their dues.
At the meeting, it was also decided that all e-commerce companies have to get a unique business identification number from the commerce ministry, he said, adding that e-commerce companies that do not get the number will be shut.
Besides, a central login tracking platform for e-commerce, as well as an online central complaint management system will be set up, the commerce minister said.
He said the ICT division would assist in these works, adding that it would announce in two weeks how long it would take to set up the systems.
Junaid Ahmed Palak said 10% of startups worldwide survive, while the rest disappear.
In Bangladesh, too, many startups, including Chaldal.com, started their journey five years ago with a few lakhs and were now worth a few thousand crore takas.
"Evaly, Bengal's Amazon, may be in trouble now, but Chaldal has grown 300 times," he said, adding that while Evaly had failed, more than 10% of startups in Bangladesh have survived.
Palak said 2,500 startups started their journey in Bangladesh in the last five years. These companies have received more than $500 million in foreign direct investment and employ around 15 lakh people.
He also said that no new law or regulatory body would be formed to control the e-commerce sector, with discipline in the sector ensured through existing laws and technology.