While general trade in the country during the pandemic witnessed a fall, e-commerce increased remarkably
- E-commerce market size to be $3bn by 2023
- Current e-commerce market size nearly $2bn
- E-trade fetched $1,648 million in 2019
- Number of internet users increased by 9.5% this year
- 2,500 e-commerce sites in operation
- 30,000 retail deliveries per day
- Bangladesh ranks 46th in world e-commerce revenue
The upward growth trajectory of e-commerce in Bangladesh in recent years has come with numerous challenges, of which protecting consumer rights is key, speakers said at a programme on Tuesday.
They recommended implementing consumer rights which is the prime factor for a sustainable e-commerce system.
The recommendation came at a webinar on "E-commerce and Consumer Rights During Covid-19: Challenges and Way Forward" organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).
Jafar Uddin, secretary to the Ministry of Commerce, attended the webinar as the chief guest.
In his discussion, Jafar observed that consumers are dissatisfied over services of different e-commerce bodies in the wake of low-quality products, dissimilarities between real products and virtual products, their timely supply, etc.
"However, Covid-19 has appeared as a blessing for e-commerce. In spite of having discontent among the consumers, the markets of both e-commerce and f-commerce are growing manifold for their incremental demand," he added.
In his address, DCCI president Shams Mahmud said presently, the e-commerce market size is about $2 billion which is increasing at a rate of 50% every year.
Where general trade in the country during the pandemic witnessed a fall, e-commerce increased remarkably, according to the business leader.
"Protection of consumer rights is a key factor for a sustainable e-commerce ecosystem in Bangladesh. Quality, conformity, liability, distribution, a secured payment system ,and the price of products are greatly linked with consumer rights," he added.
Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) president Syed Almas Kabir presented the keynote paper at the webinar.
He informed the virtual platform that in 2020, e-commerce fetched $2,077 million while it earned $1,648 million in 2019.
So, there is significant growth this year, and by the year 2023, the market size of the sector will reach $3 billion, he hopes.
In his keynote speech, Kabir highlighted that the number of internet users in Bangladesh has increased 9.5% compared to the number last year. There are 36 million active social media users in the country and the f-commerce market size is Tk312 crore.
The BASIS president focused on: solving unreliable internet connections, ensuring user-friendly payment systems, improving the skills of IT professionals to tackle unwanted cyber-attacks, enhancing technology adaptation capabilities, building physical infrastructure and offering fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
He said strong regulatory monitoring will mitigate bad players in the market, calling for e-commerce marketing and advertising policy along with data privacy.
Ghulam Rahman, president, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said: "A registration system for f-commerce is needed to bring it under monitoring and accountability."
The government can start a system of registration with a minimal fee so small and micro-entrepreneurs can come under accountability, he suggested.
Fahim Ahmed, president and CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Pathao Ltd., termed it challenging to gain consumers' confidence and reliability.
Dominant players may create a monopoly in the market, he said, asking for steps so that local entrepreneurs can compete with other foreign entities.
Syed Mustahidal Hoq, managing director, Daraz Bangladesh Ltd., advocated for the regulation of f-commerce which is not the same as e-commerce.
Tina Jabeen, managing director and CEO, Startup Bangladesh Ltd., talked about her organisation, saying Startup has a Tk500-crore allocation which is a flagship project of the ICT Division of the government.
Tina also urged local investors to finance and promote e-commerce startups as there are foreign players in the market.
Mohd Humayun Kabir, executive director, Bangladesh Bank, said: "We are trying to help micro-merchants in the e-commerce ecosystem by easing their documentation process."
"We have to ensure a fair competitive e-commerce market which will be able to determine the abuse of dominant position," according to Md Abdur Rauf, Bangladesh Competition Commission.
Bablu Kumar Saha, director general, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, underscored the importance of translating terms and conditions of e-trading into Bengali to reduce fraud.
"Simultaneously, we have to create awareness among e-customers," he said.
At the webinar, the DCCI also issued a set of recommendations that include: bringing the e-commerce sector under the government stimulus package, strengthening BSTI, reducing VAT and supplementary duty on e-commerce businesses to a logical level, easing conditions of licencing to formalise e-commerce entities, introducing 5G technologies and arranging trainings for e-commerce-based SME entrepreneurs, effectively implementing the National Digital Commerce Policy-2018, as well as building the capacity of the stakeholders concerned and their institutional capabilities.