Being one of the fastest growing and most digitally transformative businesses in Bangladesh, the platform economy should be given time to build capacity while it is too early for the sector to come under the authorities' regulation.
Experts also emphasised that training people in English language is necessary for the platform-based businesses while enhanced monitoring and protecting consumer privacy are essential for earning customer trust.
The observations came at a webinar titled "Emergence and Key Aspects of the Platform Economy in Bangladesh" organised by DataSense and supported by the Oxford Internet Institute and The Business Standard on Tuesday.
Platform economy, which refers to ride-sharing, freelancing and e-commerce, has started making room in Bangladesh and is also known as the gig economy.
Shohoz Founder and Managing Director Maliha Quadir said regulation for the platform economy has to be phase-wise.
"Before imposing any regulation upon the sector, the government should facilitate capacity building for the sector, or else imposition of regulation would be pointless," she said.
Pathao Co-founder and CEO Hussain M Elius said this is too early to regulate the platform-based economy and even in the US, the sector has yet to come under regulation.
"The authorities ask ride-sharing drivers to have identity cards at their own cost, but is there any driver who will do it at their own expense to help the government reap benefit from them?" he said, adding that the authorities should help the sector grow first and then regulation should come.
Talking about mounting frauds in the gig economy, Maliha Quadir said, "To control such cases, we need an identity verification system and the government is in the best position to do that."
She also said language skills are very important to do platform-based business.
"We need a serious level of training on English language which is the main barrier for the gig economy," she added.
Professor Sayema Haque Bidisha, who teaches economics at the University of Dhaka, addressed the programme as the keynote speaker.
Apart from presenting the prospects of the sector, Sayema highlighted some key challenges facing the businesses such as lack of information, absence of proper monitoring and regulation and consumer's data privacy.
As a way forward, she suggested forming an inclusive multi-stakeholder platform for all direct stakeholders of the platform economy.
In his concluding remark, The Business Standard Editor Inam Ahmed said the media can play the role of a watchdog for the development of the gig economy.
"I wonder how some companies are offering 140% cashback on their products. Is it possible? If so, how do they run their business?" he asked, adding that such activities should be taken into account.
TBS editor also opined that the traditional law is not capable of regulating the gig economy.
Among others, Murali Shanmugavelan, Research Lead at iSocial (DataSense), also spoke at the webinar.
Panelists of the webinar shed light on the emergence and key aspects of Bangladesh's platform economy as well as its relative position vis-à-vis the global platform economy, employment, and investment.
Barrister Anita Ghazi, founder and managing partner at The Legal Circle, presided over the programme while Ananya Raihan, founder and CEO of iSocial (DataSense), moderated the programme.
DataSense is the business intelligence unit at iSocial that provides various modes of research and management consultation to B2B customers, which includes data collection, curating and processing and analysis for operations management.