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A Report on Legal Aspects of E-commerce in Bangladesh
The Internet has opened up a new horizon for trade and commerce, namely electronic Commerce (e-commerce). E-commerce entails the use of the Internet in the marketing, Identification, payment and delivery of goods and services. This paper highlights the status, Potential and constraints to e-commerce development in Bangladesh. Both the Statutory laws as well as the challenges in implementing them are discussed. Major legal, Regulatory and institutional constraints to e-commerce are identified. The paper also lists Specific policy changes aimed at bringing improvements to the legal and regulatory environment affecting e-commerce.
Roni Bhowmik, PhD
Internet has opened up a new possibility for trade and commerce, which is electronic commerce. E-commerce involves the use of the Internet in the advertising, identification, payment and supply of goods and services. It applies the opportunity for “boundary crossing” as new entrants, business models, and changes in Technology erode the roadblocks that victimized to individual one industry from other. In developing countries, big companies also micro and medium enterprises like have adopted e-commerce business process. In order to utilize the opportunities in developing the economy Bangladesh government has also initiated many programmes and provides different facilities to promote the adoption of the technology in various sectors. In that starry-eyed catch B2C e-commerce promises a basic shift in the way in which global buyers and sellers trade with each other. The paper looks at the B2C electronic commerce future in Bangladesh analysis in country present conditions. Keywords: E-Commerce, B2C, Main Legal Issues, Government Achievements.
Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce which consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the internet and other computer networks. Electronic commerce is rapidly growing as an impressive manifestation of globalization. The rapid expansion of e-commerce is a major opportunity for local and international trade development of LDCs including Bangladesh. The amount of trade conducted electronically has grown dramatically since the spread of the internet. A wide variety of commerce is conducted in this way, spurring and drawing on innovations in electronic fund transfer, supply chain management, internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange, automated inventory management systems and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at some point in the transaction's life cycle, although it can encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail as well. Bangladesh has also stepped into the arena of e-commerce slowly but surely. This work focuses on the overall e-commerce websites and business to consumer category of Bangladesh (B2C). This article emphasizes on secondary sources data collection. The report ends with recommendations and conclusion.
IOSR Journals publish within 3 days
This paper is to examine the growth and challenges of e-commerce in Bangladesh. It also tries to portray the overall scenario of e-commerce in Bangladesh. This paper is prepared by analyzing various research studies carried out on e-commerce. The Internet has uncovered a new window of business platforms, which is commonly known as e-commerce. The term e-commerce or electronic commerce is anything that involves an online transaction. In Bangladesh not only big enterprises, but also small and medium enterprises have adopted e-business platforms. Bangladesh has a great potentiality to evolve e-commerce. The government has taken various measures to make available different facilities to extend the practice of e-commerce. The scope for improving the business structure and increasing productivity by using e-commerce is much larger in the developing countries. As compared to developed countries, fruitfulness of e-commerce is stronger in developing countries. Simultaneous movement several sectors toward e-commerce could larger the impact of e-commerce.
Computing Research Repository
In this paper, we describe an effective framework for adapting electronic commerce or e-commerce services in developing countries like Bangladesh. The internet has opened up a new horizon for commerce, namely electronic commerce (e-commerce). It entails the use of the internet in the marketing, identification, payment and delivery of goods and services. At present internet facilities are available in Bangladesh. Slowly, but steadily these facilities are holding a strong position in every aspects of our life. E-commerce is one of those sectors which need more attention if we want to be a part of global business. Bangladesh is far-far away to adapt the main stream of e-commerce application. Though government is shouting to take the challenges of e-commerce, but they do not take the right step, that is why e-commerce dose not make any real contribution in our socio-economic life. Here we propose a model which may develop the e-commerce infrastructure of Bangladesh.
Prateek Kalia, Ph.D.
Growth of e-commerce in India is posing significant legal and regulatory challenges. Deficiencies exist despite significant amendments and introduction of secondary legislation. This paper has been written with an object to highlight deficiencies in information technology legislation governing e-commerce in India. Content analysis of information technology and other relevant legislation/literature revealed that, the IT Act partially address issues like legal validity of electronic transactions, security, content regulation, intermediary liability and jurisdiction, whereas areas like junk mail and spamming, intellectual property, payment, taxation of e-commerce transactions, and consumer protection are unaddressed. This paper fulfills the identification of ten major components of e-commerce value chain vis-à-vis the Information Technology Act and signalizes key deficiencies. Information in this paper is useful for policy and decision makers in government and e-commerce businesses.
There is no doubt that E-commerce is increasing daily in length and breadth. Nigeria as a Nation is catching up with the trend. There is currently no specific laws on e-commerce in Nigeria, however there exists some scanty provisions of the law, but it has not address the salient issues surrounding it. There are also several Bills on the subject before the National Assembly awaiting assent. Developing a new legal framework is needed on the subject of E-commerce in Nigeria. This paper is an attempt to analyze the regime of e-commerce in Nigeria and making an analysis of these scanty laws that regulation of e-commerce could be inferred from in Nigeria. This paper will analyze on the Bills before the National Assembly on e-commerce and the need to develop and pass them to become a legal frame work for e-commerce in Nigeria. This paper will attempt to draw lessons from U.K and Singapore in the area of e-commerce making a proposition that Nigeria can gain much from them. In the final analysis, this paper will make viable recommendation and conclusion.
Sajid Hossain Khan
The innovations in technologies are changing the social, cultural and economic relationships in a vast variety of ways. Information technology has become a necessary tool for today's organizations and banking industry is not an exception. Electronic commerce is rapidly growing modern business process in all over the world, but in Bangladesh it is increasing comparatively slower rate. Though Bangladesh was comparatively a late introducer of e-banking but now almost all the banks are providing internet banking to their customers. But what is important is the lack of comprehensive study of the e-payment security covering organizational and customers' point of view. Considering the importance of secure e-payment to grow up e-commerce in Bangladesh this study was taken up. It was revealed from the survey that the customers' and service providers main concern was security. E-banking service providers should have to ensure that online banking is safe and secure for every user in all kind of transactions. The Authors also proposed a secure e-payment model in general and on debit card and credit card to bring customers confidence on e-payment and increase the volume of e-commerce in the context of Bangladesh.
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E-commerce in Bangladesh: prospects and challenges
Quazi Tafsirul Islam and Nur Ibna Saeed | Published: 00:00, Aug 31,2021
ON A very optimistic estimate, the size of Bangladesh’s e-commerce sector is projected to be around $3 billion by 2023. Bangladesh is also set to graduate from a least developed country to one of middle income around the same time. There has also been strong historical evidence of consumers spending more money on fashion, food, and consumables when they have higher expendable income. So, there is potential for growth in this sector, and the growth of mobile financial services and stronger internet coverage in suburban regions have been credited to the growth of e-commerce in the past years. Owing to the Covid pandemic, e-commerce saw a natural boost globally as nationwide or regional lockdowns have been in place. Companies have been innovative and acquired extra market shares by giving consumers what they wanted while consumers have been able to order consumables, conventional and non-conventional goods and services from the safety and comfort of their homes. The evidence in Bangladesh lies with the online sale of cattle during Eid-ul-Adha, for example, as sales have been significantly higher than last year.
However, if recent hiccups in the industry taught us anything, it is that all is not well and while there has been significant growth in this sector in the past decade owing to infrastructural and technological advancement in the country, the growth is nowhere close to that of our neighbours. In 2018–2020 India has witnessed about 40 per cent year-on-year growth. Let us look into why we have not been able to achieve similar growth while the economy has been performing well and growing at par or higher than that of our neighbour’s for years. There are several contributing factors to a weaker customer penetration ranging from operational challenges, culture, and overall poor digital literacy.
Although there is a strong road and railway network in Bangladesh, it is undeniable that we still do not have a strong and developed delivery channel. We have a few conventional courier delivery services and in the past few years, modern app-based delivery service providers can facilitate a swift delivery but mostly the same day or swift delivery services are limited to Dhaka and a few other cities. We are comparatively a small nation and this makes the distance between central hubs in the capital Dhaka and other cities significantly lesser than many nations in the west and yet we do not have a strong and dependable delivery channel that buyers and sellers can depend on. Last-mile delivery refers to the specific journey of a good from the hub to the consumer’s doorstep and there is still a long way to go to develop a digitally equipped workforce and courier solution that is scalable and reasonable. While the rest of the world is exploring sustainable drone technology driven by AI to deliver goods and services, we are way behind as we still do not have a dependable service. Quality of packaging is also another concern, as companies attempt to save costs by using cheaper packaging at the risk of damaging the goods.
Seller behaviour is another aspect where Bangladesh lags behind. A lot of the vendors or sellers listed on many e-commerce websites or even Facebook pages do not have their own stock or business. These are basically resellers, who, upon order, will source the goods from another wholesaler or local vendor and then sell it on websites for a margin. Now this itself is a good business model but when a significant portion of the sellers sources goods upon ordering, there is usually a higher turnaround time, which stretches the entire process, and because they are delaying to send their product to e-commerce hubs, there is a delay in the delivery. This is a major reason why many consumers prefer to buy from physical outlets rather than wait for a long period of time as there is no assurance that goods will be delivered on schedule. There is also a small portion of sellers who takes undue advantage of the system and would sell subpar products or products lower than that announced on their sites or pages.
All of this results in consumers not being able to completely rely on online vendors or e-commerce sites. This results in slower growth in this sector. There have also been issues in recent times where several e-commerce platforms have not been straightforward with the consumers in terms of the goods they will receive when they will receive them. These events are detrimental to industry growth and when these events occur repetitively consumers lose faith and the entire industry loses momentum. Hence, consumer trust is not in ideal shape at the moment. Owing to all these challenges, overall customer satisfaction is also not in a very encouraging shape right now.
Although there has been major growth in mobile financial services usage (MFS) in Bangladesh, interoperability remains a challenge to date. Another challenge is associated with the return or cancellation of goods. In case the payment is made in advance, there are instances where the total refund process takes as many as 45 days. Since consumers opt for several different payment methods other than cash on delivery on different occasions and platforms such as MFS, payment through local or international cards, bank transfer, etc. It becomes difficult to make refunds instantly due to challenges associated with the interoperability of different payment methods and services. In some cases, the banking process itself is slow and results in delay in refunds.
Another major hindrance to the path of growth is the poor digital literacy and education level of the majority of the consumers. Although, ordering through or operation of an app or a website does not require a strong command of the English language, however, there is still a rising concern for digital literacy. Often it is a significant challenge outside urban areas, especially in poorer or rural communities. Digital literacy refers to the skills and knowledge individuals possess that enables them to access and utilise information digitally and reap the benefits of different applications, websites, and social media platforms. However, there were 47.61 million internet users in Bangladesh as of January 2021 — a sharp 8 per cent increase from last year. Thanks to cheaper smartphones, infrastructural improvements, and the pandemic, internet use is at all-time high. This is an indicator for faster technological adaptation of the consumers. The growth of MFS in Bangladesh is also increasing and serves as an indicator that e-commerce has strong potential ahead.
It will not only be rational to expect that policy changes will address all these challenges and there will be smoother growth. Rather, it will take some time for both consumers and sellers to learn the norms and practices of online trade and transactions. Local and international giants are already eyeing the Bangladeshi market as there will be a lot of opportunities in the future for them. It is high time policy intervention ensured consumer protection and helped build trust. Local entrepreneurs should also come forward to develop related services that aid growth in this sector.
Quazi Tafsirul Islam is a lecturer, School of Business, North South University. Nur Ibna Saeed is head of transport, Daraz Bangladesh.
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E Commerce Policy Framework for Bangladesh
Definitions of Data:
Main focus of document:.
Focuses on the development of e-commerce in Bangladesh so that the country might become one of the world leaders in the e-commerce industry.
Target Beneficiaries or Sectors:
online traders and consumers
The government recognizes that e commerce is thriving in Bangladesh and, as a result, created this policy to guide and govern the sector. The policy outlines development priorities in the IT, electricity and broadband sectors with a view to supporting Bangladesh's development and also enabling the country to keep pace with the modern world. Some key sections include:
- B2C (Business to Consumers) e-commerce: includes retail sales often called e-retail (or e-tail). Some of the benefits companies can get by creating B2C platforms are reduced operating costs, bigger outreach, globalization, customer convenience, knowledge management. Bangladesh e-commerce started in, and remains mostly concentrated in, the area of B2C transactions.
- B2B (Business to Business): Proper B2B marketplaces with secure payment options, and auction and bidding facilities need to be developed. Government can arrange training or workshops for businesses (including MSMEs) to convert existing systems into digitized ones. This will also create transparency within the organizations and help create a better taxation monitoring system. The government also has to focus on how to facilitate B2B transactions by reducing some of the hassles with the existing brick and mortar system.
- B2G and G2B: When a business sells its products or services to the government using a computer network, or vice versa, such sales fall into the B2G (Business to Government) or G2B (Government to Business) e-commerce categories. This model is the pathway to create e-government. Bangladesh has started its journey towards a digital governance system with the introduction of e-tendering and digital information services.
Legal and Regulatory Framework for E-Commerce Components of the framework include: Self Regulation • Code of Conduct for businesses and customers needs to be defined. Any form of digital communication must not violate traditional social and business etiquette. • Consumer Protection law is essential to build trust for consumers. A holding fund mechanism mentioned in the ‘EPayment’ section can be established in a merchant’s bank account; Consumers also need to use true identification for transaction purposes. • Privacy of consumer’s communication, preferences, visit information, personal and financial data must be maintained by the relevant merchant. • There has to be a clear definition of what form of communication, intention or promise between merchant and consumer will be counted as a service agreement; violation of which would face legal consequences in the justice system. • Community Conscious Driven Policy needs to be established. The socio-economic scenario differs from country to country. Expectations from businesses and consumers need to weighed in existings standard. • Dispute Resolution Mechanism should be clearly stated and communicated properly to stakeholders. A cyber court can be established for quick resolution of such cases.
Law and Regulation • ICT Act is in the process of reformation. As cyber world changes very quickly, there should be a legal committee to revisit the law and propose necessary changes every 6 months. Case studies from other countries can be of great assistance to improve such law. • Many acts on e-commerce are a combination of a number of digital actions and traditional business processes. The ICT Act must ensure there is suitable conformity with existing law and e-commerce regulations. • Though e-commerce ensures easy access to entrepreneurship, some form of regulation has to be imposed for new entrants for identification, authentication, taxation and monitoring purposes. An easy registration process using e-tin, address, etc can be incorporated to ensure the transactions fall under a legal umbrella. • Insurance policy can be formulated to protect businesses and consumers from larger accident and fraud incidents. • Bilateral Agreement (Treaties) with countries is a must to boost international e-commerce. Legal framework to facilitate easy customs, VAT and other payments, quick release of the product and improved delivery channel will encourage international business transactions.
Secure Information Management • Awareness and Training Programs need to be conducted regularly among government and non-government officials, entrepreneurs and consumers on secure information management - how to backup data, how to ensure data integrity, how to authenticate a person to use the system, how frequently data backups must be taken, etc. • Data backup and recovery is an essential issue for e-commerce. Data Centre establishment is currently underway which need to be integrated not only with the big companies but also micro and small e-commerce businesses for regular backup of essential and big volume data. • Cryptography is the worldwide practice to keep information secure. Government must allow only those payment gateways using proper security precautions to operate in order to keep information confidential.
Authentication • Digital certification is a common practice worldwide to ensure trust in internet companies. The Bangladesh government approved the Information Technology (Certification Authority) Act in 2010 under which six private companies and Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) have been given authority to issue digital certificates. Digital certification with digital signature needs to be prioritized for e-commerce transactions and agreements. For proper filing of important documents, 20,000 government officials have been given digital certificates with digital signatures as a part of a government project. • Biometric registration of mobile sims was completed recently; along with national IDs, these can be used as authentication of the true identity of the merchant and consumer. • Smart cards can be introduced, which hold a person’s information and make e-commerce transactions more trustworthy. They can also be used as an e-wallet for the consumer.
Cyber Crime and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights • A district-level Cyber Tribunal has been formed and a common helpline created. Bangladesh's law enforcement has to have a special taskforce who can understand and deal with different e-commerce security issues. • To fight with conflict management, many e-commerce legal advisors will be needed in the future. For that, a suitable curriculum and training program has to be developed. • Intellectual properties for e-commerce have to be clearly identified and must be protected. • Implementation of Copy Right law has to be very organized to protect digital intellectual assets. Many of the e-commerce sectors like movies, songs, books, etc will not flourish if not monitored and copy right law is not properly imposed.
E-Payment Four banks have payment gateways. Currently the e-commerce volume is Tk 200 crore per year. But transactions in e-commerce are happening mostly on a cash on delivery basis. Around 90% of e-commerce orders are still paid through cash on delivery. An audit of existing payment platforms needs to be conducted regularly and these platforms must conform to certain regulations and performance guidelines to operate. Faster initiative is required to bring globally recognized secure systems like PayPal. To encourage consumers to pay online, policy can be made so that when consumers pay merchants through the internet, the fund will be held in the merchant’s account. According to a recent Daily Star report, in the current payment ecosystem, almost 8 Lac transactions happen through EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) per month, amounting to Tk. 5,780 Cr. In Bangladesh, cards came into being in the late 1980s and the first credit card was launched in 1997. The total number of debit cards in Bangladesh is 8.3 million, whereas the number of account holders is 40m.
Compared to other Asian countries, Bangladesh is still considerably behind in terms of credit card penetration. There is a huge opportunity for cards to prosper, if a card is issued against every savings account. Currently, the card industry is growing at a rate of about 2%. The total number of daily card transactions is around 3.8 Lac which amounts to Tk. 274 Crore. Internet banking is another recent phenomenon in the payment ecosystem. As of 31 October 2015, the number of internet banking customers was 1,550,101 and the number of daily transactions stood at more than 19,000, amounting to Tk. 59 crore. As per BTCL data, the total number of mobile subscribers has exceeded the figure of 12 crore, which is almost 80% of the total population. Now, the total number of internet users in Bangladesh stands at around 5 Crore. Hence, there is a huge opportunity to expand internet banking. Mobile banking has also made a good start. Many banks have introduced mobile apps. Mobile transactions have been increasing rapidly. The payment system must be interoperable among banks, credit card companies, clearing houses and even with fraud detection through the Center of Law and Enforcement Agency, so that stolen cards can be readily identified. To accelerate inter-bank electronic payments, the government has established NPSB (National Payment Switch Bangladesh).
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Is the E-Commerce Growth in Bangladesh Worth Celebrating?
LightCastle Analytics Wing
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the business landscape concocting harsh ripples across industries. On the contrary, the reality has been different for the e-commerce industry, as it witnessed enhanced dynamism during the crisis. With worldwide restrictions being imposed to curb infections, people limited their outside exposure even for daily necessities, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the e-commerce industry. Fuelled by the pandemic, the share of e-commerce in global retail sales increased to 17% from 14% in 2020.  Things look promising for Bangladesh, too, as the consumer behavior shifted rapidly during this time. Facebook has over 2,000 eCommerce sites and over 50,000 eCommerce pages, making it a popular platform for advertising and selling things. The sector has seen strong growth in previous years, but after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, growth has increased as more consumers are inclined to shop online. According to Statista, the industry expects to grow from $1.6 billion in 2019 to around $2 billion in 2020 and $3 billion in 2023. However, even with such promising growth, the real concern is whether the numbers are sustainable to carry forward into the future and provide enough incentive for innovation.
Current Market Condition
From the early 2010s, the e-commerce industry of Bangladesh took off, particularly with the introduction of online banking from Bangladesh Bank. Later, after further relaxation of restrictions on usage of credit cards for international purchases, the sector is now growing faster than ever. With a 9.3% annual growth in revenue and a 72% annual growth in market size, the industry is set to reach greater heights in no time.  Daraz, one of the largest market shareholders in the e-commerce of Bangladesh, is a perfect representation of the industry’s growth. In the past four years alone, the company went from dispatching 500 parcels daily to 120,000 parcels in a single day. In recent times, new startups are popping up in different market segments, drawn by greater aggregate demand. The likes of Chaldal, the leader in the e-grocery segment, and ShopUp, a startup enabling SMEs to go online, are spearheading innovation in the e-commerce industry.  The growth potential is drawing a large volume of foreign direct investment as well. In 2018, Chinese giant Alibaba Group acquired Daraz, which worked as a gamechanger for the market leader. Currently, e-commerce is the third-highest funded sector in terms of startup investments. 
The macroeconomic consumer behavior following the post-pandemic has also significantly been reliant on e-commerce. While 59 commercial banks in Bangladesh only account for 60% of the total population, the introduction of Agent Banking and Mobile Financial Services (MFS) has been dramatically successful to cater to the remaining 40% of the unbanked population. The recent initiatives to manufacture smartphones locally and make 4G more accessible across the country have further accelerated digital inclusion for e-commerce across the country.
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Impact of covid-19 on e-commerce growth in bangladesh.
The turning point for the e-commerce sector has been induced by the dramatic shift in consumer behavior since the coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic has forced people to shop online, which effectively removed the consumer hesitancy for e-commerce. On the other hand, the pandemic has led to a higher tendency to save, acting as a counterweight keeping the growth leashed. Personal savings across the country increased up to 11% from 2019, cutting down pre-pandemic spending across entertainment and leisure activities.  Nonetheless, Bangladesh still has substantial e-commerce growth to show going into the second year of the pandemic. The following figure summarizes the impact of Covid-19 on e-commerce goods and services of developing countries, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
In terms of categories, agro-food and beverages have seen the steepest rise in terms of sales. After that, we can see a significant increase in the usage of financial services, pharmaceutical products, and food delivery. On the contrary, fashion and apparel product sales have gone down during this time, according to UNCTAD. 
Although the Bangladeshi e-commerce market has registered substantial growth recently, it is still not at par with global development. Despite the shift during the pandemic, Bangladesh slipped to 115th in 2020 in the worldwide e-commerce index ranking by UNCTAD.  The index considers factors like internet and postal reliability to measure the readiness of an industry to adopt e-commerce. Compared to the global engine, Bangladesh’s faltering performance raises the concern on whether we are on the right track.
The infrastructural limitations account for the undesired slip in the climb. As mentioned earlier, the country’s under-developed payment infrastructure is a barrier to the sector’s forward momentum. This has led to the popularity of the cash-on-delivery model in Bangladesh, as 90% of customers are more comfortable with this method.  However, this is not taken into consideration for the UNCTAD index. As a result, the e-commerce readiness of Bangladesh might be underestimated by this measure.
A Step Back With Evaly
From the height of its inception, Evaly has been a household name in the e-commerce market of Bangladesh with lucrative deals from 50% to up to 100% cashback. With such massive discounts, gift cards and offers, the catch as Evaly pointed out was longer than usual deliveries, about 45 days officially. However, it was later revealed that there was more to it behind the closed doors. From several complaints of the customers, most of the delivery delays stretched for over months, the refunds were often provided through post-dated cheques, which had to be rectified over even longer periods. After a staggering number of complaints from both merchants and customers, it was established that Evaly was indeed running a Ponzi scheme.
Ponzi Schemes are fraudulent investing scams where high returns are promised with very little risk. In reality, it works by generating the supposed returns to the earlier investors/customers with money received from later customers. At one point the lucrative deals with 100-150% cashback created a staggering difference between Evaly’s assets and liabilities.  According to a report by Bangladesh Bank, Evaly boasted Tk 4.04 billion of liabilities to its customers and merchants while having only Tk 651.7 million in their current assets. 
All of this resulted in a general distrust among the consumers. While lucrative offers from sites such as Evaly, Dhamaka, and E-orange (all running some form of Ponzi schemes) attracted temporary customers, this allowed a drop in sales for the regular e-commerce platforms such as Ajkerdeal. The burgeoning customers hence now have a skewed perception, regarding the reliability of these e-commerce companies. 
Challenges and the Way Forward
Despite the promising panorama offered by the e-commerce industry, many barriers stand in its way. Factors such as unregulated markets coupled with infrastructural hindrances make the economy a tough terrain for e-commerce businesses. Below, we discuss some pain points for the industry followed by the way forward from the challenges:
High Population Density: For e-commerce businesses with central warehouses, operating in densely populated areas is a massive challenge. The country’s capital city is infamous for hosting the world’s worst traffic. According to the World Bank, the average traffic speed in Dhaka is 7 km/ph which is just over the average walking speed.  In such difficult terrain, delivering goods as promised is incredibly challenging. To overcome these problems, startups are coming up with disruptive models such as Chaldal’s MicroWarehouse approach. Instead of a centralized warehouse, they are capitalizing on many small warehouses spread across the city to enhance customer experience.
Demand Imbalance: Although the aggregate demand for e-commerce is on the rise, there is a large disparity in terms of locations. The growth of e-commerce businesses has mostly been limited to the urban areas, whereas semi-urban and rural areas have been virtually overlooked. According to e-CAB, 80% of online shoppers are from Dhaka, Chattogram, and Gazipur.  This imbalance indicates the presence of untapped opportunities to capture across the country. However, due to infrastructural limitations, the market players are not being able to capitalize on them.
Newly Enforced Regulations: According to the Commerce Minister, the e-commerce sector would undergo future regulations to monitor the industry after the recent fraudulent incidents. According to the recent meeting discussing the e-commerce industry and its revised policy, there is an established urgency of creating a legal framework through a separate regulatory body and central complaint cell to ensure reliability and accountability. Existing laws including the Digital Security Act and Money Laundering Act would also be amended against fraudulent e-commerce platforms. 
Payment Issues: The country’s low financial inclusion is a threat to the retail e-commerce industry. Due to low credit card penetration, cash-on-delivery is preferred by most. However, many online vendors are not inclined to offer cash-on-delivery to customers outside Dhaka. As a result, the imbalance portrayed earlier condenses. However, the rise of MFS has brought some stability in the financial ecosystem in Bangladesh, which has hitherto been a clumsy arena. During the pandemic, Mobile Financial Services (MFS) adoption in Bangladesh has risen to extraordinary levels to support transactions that require digital payments. Spearheaded by BKash, the MFS sector in Bangladesh is showing a way around the financial inclusion challenge to the e-commerce industry.
Global e-commerce has displayed tremendous resilience amid the major upheavals around the world due to the pandemic. Fuelled by some major shifts in consumer behavior, the industry swelled manifold. The Bangladeshi industry has somewhat followed the same path registering healthy growth amidst the crisis. However, Bangladesh is not in a position to afford complacency as the industry is still riddled with problems on many fronts. As long as this difficult terrain for e-commerce businesses continues to face these issues, keeping the excitement at subsistent levels looks like the wiser choice.
Faiyaz Uddin Ayeshik , Content Writer , and Kaishary Islam, Content Writer, at LightCastle Partners, have prepared the write-up . For further clarifications, please reach out to: [email protected]
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- 3. Digital 2020: Bangladesh – DataReportal
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- 5. Bangladesh Startup Ecosystem: Funding Landscape – LightCastle Partners
- 6. The UNCTAD B2C E-Commerce Index – UNCTAD
- 7. Bangladesh – Country Commercial Guide – International Trade Administration
- 8. Traffic jam: The ugly side of Dhaka’s development – The Daily Star
- 9. The growth of e-commerce during the pandemic in Bangladesh – The New Age
- 10. COVID-19 and E-commerce: Impact on Businesses and Policy Response – UNCTAD
- 11. COVID-19 and e-commerce: impact on businesses and policy responses – UNCTAD
- 12. Is Evaly a Ponzi scheme? – Dhaka Tribune
- 13. How Evaly, Dhamaka, Eorange hurt the e-commerce sector – Dhaka Tribune
- 14. E-commerce to get separate regulatory body – Dhaka Tribune
- 15. Bangladesh – Country Commercial Guide – International Trade Administration
- 16. Statista E-commerce Bangladesh – Statista
- 17. Bangladesh Personal Savings – Trading Economics
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Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, sectors that sell through e-commerce, and products/services in each sector sold versus brick-and-mortar retail.
The eCommerce sector has seen dramatic growth since the early 2000’s, when Bangladesh lacked widespread internet access or a reliable online transaction system. In 2009, the Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank authority, began permitting online transactions. In 2013, the Bangladesh Bank also permitted the purchase and sale of goods and services online using international credit cards. Bangladesh ranked 147 out of 176 on the ITU’s ICT Development Index 2017, an annual report that captures the level of ICT development. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) puts total internet subscribers at 123.82 million as of December 2021, of which only 10.09 million use broadband connections while the rest are mobile internet users.
Key Market Demographic
Currently, the following four types of eCommerce are popular in Bangladesh:
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
- Business-to-Employees (B2E)
In order to facilitate eCommerce and encourage the growth of information technology, the Bangladeshis enacted the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act of 2006. The Act, amended in 2013, included provisions for imprisonment and/or fines for cyber-crimes. The enactment of the Act has had significant implications for e-commerce and mobile commerce users and companies in Bangladesh. The growth of the industry has been inhibited by low usage of credit and debit cards (cash remains the major payment method) and the unavailability of or restrictions on major online transaction sites such as PayPal.
The Government of Bangladesh withdrew the 49 percent maximum allowable shareholding limit on foreign E-commerce companies in June 2020, allowing 100 percent foreign-owned companies to operate in Bangladesh. COVID-19 social distancing measures significantly boosted demand for eCommerce services and led many brick and mortar businesses to join online sales platforms.
Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
B2C websites have become popular in large urban areas, as evidenced by the growth of online food delivery sites such as HungryNaki and FoodPanda. Highly congested roads and poor driving conditions have also helped drive demand for home delivery services. Other examples of B2C initiatives include Facebook-based commerce platforms such as Shoprbd and ShoptoBd, which allow Bangladeshi customers to purchase products from leading online shopping sites in the United States, the UK, India, and China.
C2C businesses are also growing. The leading players in this category include Bikroy, Ekhanei, and ClickBd. More recently, the C2C sector has seen some consolidation with Telenor Group purchasing CellBazar and Ekhanei.com purchasing playeOLX. Online employee recruitment is also growing, largely in the private sector. Leading online job advertisers and recruiters include: bdjobs.com, prothom-alojobs.com, and jobsA1.com.
Several B2B websites in Bangladesh are engaged in providing manufacturing and supply-chain solutions. For instance, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has deployed B2B e-commerce solutions for international ready-made garment (RMG) orders and procurement, as have several large ready-made garment companies. There are also B2B websites that feature business directories, trade deals, and information about suppliers such as the Bangladesh Business Guide , Address Bazar, and Bizbangladesh.
Cross-border eCommerce remains largely inhibited by a viable online transaction system and capital controls that prevent most outward flows of foreign currency for consumer purposes. In addition, weak logistics infrastructure and irregular customs practices hinder the growth of cross-border eCommerce. However, leading logistics provider DHL publicly announced plans to invest in cross-border eCommerce in the future.
Challenges to eCommerce in Bangladesh include:
- Inadequate delivery mechanisms;
- A relatively low internet penetration rate;
- The lack of a robust online transaction system;
- Prevalence of online fraud;
- Undeveloped online marketing practices; and
The growing mobile financial services (MFS) industry has enabled consumers to buy products online more easily, giving the e-commerce sector a boost. The market is expected to triple in size by 2023, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the cottage, micro, small, and medium enterprise (CMSME) sector. At present, there are about 2,500 e-commerce companies in the country and at least 50,000 business pages on Facebook.
The fast rate of internet adoption, improvement in logistics communication, and continuous improvement in online banking and mobile financial services (MFS) have played a crucial role in the growth of the e-commerce sector. Also, the rise in the tech-adaptable young population (over 50 per cent of the population are under 35 years) and the increasing rate of middle and affluent class (MAC) populations (10 per cent per year) has fueled the growth of this sector. The evolution of e-commerce in Bangladesh is concentrated to the capital city and the online shopping is mostly preferred by young consumers who are educated above higher secondary sschool. Many women and young entrepreneurs are becoming self-reliant through trading their products on Facebook..
Many Bangladeshi companies engage in eCommerce services, including web design, domain name purchasing, secure hosting, digital marketing and advertising, app development, in-home services, and payment gateways, among others. A number of these companies provide services to clients abroad, especially in North America. According to a 2017 study by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), with nearly 500,000 active freelancers, Bangladesh was the second-largest supplier of online labor after India. Remitting payments from abroad into Bangladesh is generally not an issue. U.S.-based Payoneer is a leading site for processing online payments among freelancers in Bangladesh.
Cash transactions are still the predominant financial transaction method for the majority of the population. According to research by the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), more than 90 percent of eCommerce users in Bangladesh prefer the cash-on-delivery payment model. Most eCommerce business portals in Bangladesh have integrated merchant accounts to facilitate credit card transactions. However, almost all eCommerce websites also offer multiple other payment methods and still cater to the consumer preferred cash-on-delivery system. Very few eCommerce businesses operate on the system of only delivering the product after receiving payment through a wire/bank transfer.
Online payment remains limited but is growing in Bangladesh as a result of an increase in internet/mobile cell phone penetration, gridlocked traffic which discourages in-person shopping, and growing per-capita income levels. Since 2011, there have been important developments in financial transaction regulation (mobile payments, digital wallets, and smart cards) as well as transaction infrastructure (e.g., electronic funds transfer payment gateways). The creation of the Bangladesh Electronic Funds Transfer Network (BEFTN) is a step toward developing a modern payment system infrastructure. This has created expanded business avenues for financial institutions as well as entrepreneurs to offer electronic or mobile payment processing services to the unbanked population. This area of electronic payment processing services has already attracted local and foreign investment. Investment areas for non-bank entrepreneurs cluster in the areas of solution development and operations for payment intermediary services, direct service delivery models in partnership with banks, and development of value-added financial applications.
The National Payment Switch Bangladesh (NPSB) is an electronic platform that started in December 2012 to attain interoperability among scheduled banks for card-based/online retail transactions. At present, NPSB is processing interbank Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sales (POS), and Internet Banking Fund Transfer (IBFT) transactions. U.S. companies operating in financial services and the financial payment network sphere (such as VISA and MasterCard) have expressed concerns about operating in the Bangladeshi market after the central bank made a mandatory policy of routing all card transactions through the NPSB. This mandatory policy eliminates competition and involves security risks, and NPSB becomes a single point of failure if it ever crashes.
In a 2017 report, e-Cab said Bangladesh has 99 percent geographical coverage in voice and data connectivity. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) puts total internet subscribers at 117.3 million as of May 2021, of which only 9.8 million use broadband connections while the rest are mobile internet users.
Utility bill payment and remittance transfers via mobile phone were introduced in Bangladesh in 2006 and 2010 respectively through the country’s leading mobile operators and banks, and have become very popular. The government also authorized mobile operators to sell railway and bus tickets, and tickets to cricket matches organized by the Bangladesh Cricket Board using mobile phones.
As of April 2021, 15 banks are providing mobile financial services (MFS), with 36.75 million active MFS accounts. In addition, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated digital financial service, “Nagad” in 2019, which is partly owned by the Bangladesh Post Office. Mobile financial services in Bangladesh include cash-in, cash-out, merchant payments, utility payments, salary disbursement, foreign remittances, and fund transfers. MFS activities grew rapidly following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, as consumers sought to use MFS platforms to comply with social distancing measures. Bangladesh’s central bank instructed banks in April 2020 to open MFS accounts for all workers of export-oriented companies to facilitate disbursement of salaries and government allowances.
Existing mobile financial service providers popular in the market include bKash, Nagad, Rocket, and UCash.
Legal & Regulatory Environment
In order to facilitate eCommerce and encourage the growth of information technology, the Bangladeshis enacted the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act of 2006. The Act, amended in 2013, included provisions for imprisonment and/or fines for cyber-crimes. The enactment of the Act has had significant implications for e-commerce and mobile commerce users and companies in Bangladesh. The growth of the industry has been inhibited by low usage of credit and debit cards (cash remains the major payment method) and the unavailability of or restrictions on major online transaction sites such as PayPal.
The country’s e-commerce sector witnessed a rough ride in 2021 as the sector had boomed in the first half of the year before the business suffered a serious setback due to scams by a number of e-commerce companies, shattering the public trust in the firms. The scam-hit entities’ failure to repay clients’ money and closure of operations prompted government intervention to streamline the sector.
Many Bangladeshi customers prefer to pay in cash on delivery to ensure they are receiving the product promised. Shoppers tend to buy more in the major Muslim holidays of Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha. Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian Holidays, including Buddhist New Year, Durga Puja, and Christmas, respectively, are also observed by segments of the population. Other major Bangladeshi holidays include Bengali New Year (April 14), Independence Day (March 26), and Victory Day (December 16). Some of these holidays are based on a religious calendar and specific dates depend on lunar sightings.
eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
The present system of trademark protection lacks a sufficient legal framework to protect intellectual property rights and opens the way for those ready to engage in unscrupulous business practices.
Digital Marketing and Social Media
With strong growth in the number of mobile internet subscribers and growing digital infrastructure, more companies in Bangladesh are investing in digital marketing. While traditional media remains strong among older persons, digital media is more popular among younger segments of the population. Fund allocation toward digital marketing remains modest at 5 to 10 percent across companies, but as conversion continues, this statistic is set to change drastically. Digital media has specifically become a strong tool for small and medium enterprises in strengthening their brand recognition. Restaurants, fashion stores, gadget shops, and lifestyle pages increasingly use digital marketing.
Content development and digital media marketing are the most popular services that digital agencies currently offer. Online advertising is also slowly expanding as video platforms mature. Digital analytics is still in the development stages in Bangladesh and not yet widely used by businesses.
Social media is widely used in Bangladesh. Facebook is the most prevalent of social media platforms with more than 30 million users. Facebook is used to engage consumers and is also a major e-Commerce platform. There are over 50,000 eCommerce Facebook pages in Bangladesh, many of which are small businesses using Facebook alone to advertise and sell products, ranging from clothes, to beauty products, to food. With faster internet connections, Google cache servers, and better streaming, YouTube is also gaining popularity in Bangladesh.
The popular service providers are:
Historical Development of eCommerce in Bangladesh
Kazi Waliul Islam
March 19, 2022
Updated On : May 27, 2023
Despite significant growth in the e-commerce sector of Bangladesh, the industry is still in its infancy. Only 4% of the country’s consumers shop online, while the rest prefer shopping malls, markets, or physical shops. As a result, e-commerce businesses have not yet become popular. However, due to the Corona epidemic, the country’s e-commerce sector enjoyed a great deal of traction.
Munshiji is believed to be the first e-commerce in Bangladesh that Munshiji Technology Limited launched in 1999 to export handicrafts, silk, jute products, tea, leather, and leather goods. In April 2005, another e-commerce platform ClickBD.com was launched. Initially, users could use this website to sell any product. Besides having a marketplace, the platform later added online stores. Finally, in 2006, the country’s first free classified ad website CellBazaar was launched. Later, in 2014 the platform was renamed ekhanei.com .
Although several e-commerce operating in the country, according to the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh or e-cab, the country lacked the necessary regulations and infrastructure for online transactions until 2008. In addition, internet services were expensive at the time, so the internet penetration rate was relatively low. Hence most of the country’s population was unfamiliar with these e-commerce sites. In 2009, Bangladesh Bank introduced regulations for online transactions. At the same time, Wimax Internet was introduced in the country. In addition, payment gateway infrastructure was developed for the first time in the country in 2010 with the establishment of ‘SSLCOMMERZ.’ Initially, the platform was launched in collaboration with Dutch Bangla Bank Limited and Brac Bank, but now it is the largest payment gateway in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s first full-fledged e-commerce company, akhoni.com, was founded in 2011 and later in 2016, was re-branded as bagdoom.com. Also, another online shopping platform ajkerdeal.com was launched in 2011. Meanwhile, in 2012 with the introduction of 3G internet technology in Bangladesh, internet penetration increased, and e-commerce operating in the country also started getting much-needed traction. In the same year, an online bookselling platform rokomari.com was launched following the strategy of global e-commerce giant Amazon.com. Presently, Rokomari, one of the most popular bookselling e-commerce platforms in the country, is expanding its business in other product categories, including electronics and stationery. Meanwhile, Bikroy.com, which was established in October 2012, has become the country’s largest C2C and B2C marketplace in consumer product sales.
In 2013, E-Commerce Week was celebrated with Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services or BASIS. In the same year, a premium ICT magazine, “Computer Jagat,” organized the country’s first e-commerce fair under the supervision of the Dhaka DC Office. At the exhibition, 31 public and private e-commerce platforms displayed their products and services. In the same year, Bangladesh Bank allowed the use of International Credit Cards for online shopping. Moreover, chaldal.com , launched in the same year, is currently the most popular online grocery and food item provider in Bangladesh.
In the same year, “Daraz” began its operations and has become the leading and most popular e-commerce platform in Bangladesh. Now, the platform has enlisted global vendors besides local vendors on their platform, and they are the first to deliver foreign products directly to domestic buyers in the country. In addition, the platform is currently working to deliver the products of the multinational e-commerce ‘Ali Express through the platform. Furthermore, in January 2014, the e-commerce association, or E-Cab was established to acknowledge e-commerce-related concerns and ensure the growth of the sector in the country. In addition, E-cab has declared that year as ‘The E-commerce year 2015’.
On the other hand, with the launch of eCourier in 2014 and Pathao Courier in 2015, many more online-based parcel delivery services started coming to the market, which has played a significant role in the growth of the e-commerce sector in the country.
Also, in 2015, khaasfood started its operations with a promise to deliver fresh food. Moreover, Sheba.xyz , the largest online service-based marketplace in Bangladesh, was launched in July 2016. Besides Pran RFL’s e-commerce service othoba.com, another Bangladeshi e-commerce platform pickaboo.com began its journey in the same year. Meanwhile, in April 2017, two popular super shops of the country’ Meena Bazaar and Shopno’ launched their e-commerce website. In addition, many other groceries, home appliances, retailers, and big brands have also started launching their e-commerce websites.
In 2018, the Government of Bangladesh published a digital commerce policy as a guideline for e-commerce websites and to ensure consumer rights. In addition, it was established that copyright, hacking, and product pricing issues were to be enforced directly by the Ministry of Commerce.
In December 2018, the e-commerce platform ‘Evaly’ started its operations in Bangladesh. The platform soon became a major e-commerce platform by offering various lucrative offers and huge discounts. However, Evaly was later charged with fraud and corruption, and their operations are currently suspended. Similar allegations have been raised against several other e-commerce platforms, including Alesha Mart, Eorange, Qcoom, Dalal Plus, Dhamaka Shopping, and Sirajgonj Shop, many of which have shut down their operations.
In June 2021, to ensure customer rights and to stop fraudulent activity, Bangladesh Bank introduced an ‘escrow service’ for e-commerce. According to the new guidelines, banks or financial institutes will withhold online consumers’ advance payments until the seller has appropriately delivered the product.
In addition, in March 2020, a B2B and B2C e-commerce company ‘malamal.xyz’ was launched, serving as a dedicated e-commerce platform for selling industrial products. Meanwhile, in December 2021, Walton, one of the country’s most popular electronics and home appliance manufacturers, launched an e-commerce website called Walcart.
Based on inventory, there are two types of business models in the e-commerce sector of Bangladesh. One is the ‘retail or inventory lead’ model, where e-commerce platforms buy products wholesale and caters to retail customers. The other is the ‘Marketplace or Zero Inventory’ model, where e-commerce businesses act as trustees between vendors and consumers. In addition, there is another business model called the ‘Mercantile Model,’ where e-commerce platforms provide delivery services on a commission basis and do not maintain any inventory. Popular e-commerce ‘Ajkerdeal’ follows this model.
According to a 2021 report by e-Cab, since 2019, e-commerce platforms in Bangladesh started extensive advertising, and by 2020 the e-commerce sector began to transform into a full-fledged business. There are more than 2500 e-commerce platforms in Bangladesh, of which 1% are large businesses, 4% are medium businesses, and 95% are small businesses. Of these, 1,600 eCommerce entrepreneurs are currently e-Cab members, of which 27 percent are women, and 73 percent are male entrepreneurs.
Besides e-commerce, Facebook-based business or F-commerce has also boomed in Bangladesh. F-commerce has been growing steadily since Facebook introduced its ‘Live’ feature. There are more than 5 lakh Facebook-based business pages in the country, of which 2 lakh pages are now actively operating business. Although e-commerce platforms grow at an average rate of 25 percent per year in Bangladesh, the dropout rate of these new entrants is about 35 percent. According to a report by e-Cab, the average basket value of the country’s e-commerce sector is currently BDT 2,200. In 2020, the average daily transaction volume of e-commerce was BDT 44 crore, which stood at Tk 16,000 crore by the end of the year.
According to another financial express, the market size of e-commerce in Bangladesh was USD 2 billion in November 2020. Still, as the sector is growing at a rate of 50 percent per year, the country’s e-commerce market is expected to reach 3 billion by 2023.
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Home ›› 21 Sep 2022 ›› Editorial
Legal framework of e-commerce in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has adopted a number of policies, strategies and action plans to support the development of the national e-commerce sector. Vision 2021 which has been termed ‘Digital Bangladesh’ remains a significant policy drive for Bangladesh utilizing ICT-led growth to promote socio-economic development. It goals for establishing digital government services that benefit the poor and connect citizens through equitable internet access.
The ICT Act of 2006 was the legal support for establishment of e-government networks. The Act was put in place as a legal foundation for digital transactions in Bangladesh and the forming of a complex e-government network that supports e-commerce development. The ICT Act also recognizes online contracts and digital signatures, and provides for dispute resolution mechanisms. The Act, amended in 2013, included provisions for imprisonment and/or fines for cyber-crimes. The enactment of the Act has had significant implications for e-commerce and mobile commerce users and companies in Bangladesh. Another law - The digital Security Act 2018 has provision of establishment of Digital Security Agency and punishments for forgery and fraudulence with the use of computers.
The government issued The National Digital Commerce Policy of 2018 to facilitate development through a joint partnership with public and private sector and to protect consumer rights through co-operation. It has broadened financial access to permits for developing digital commercial SMEs, establishment and growth of businesses within the digital commerce space. The policy has created accountability in digital commerce operations by ensuring enhanced transparency in digital business practices.
By this time, Ministry of Commerce has issued e-commerce guideline 2021 and updated the operational procedure of digital market places. Digital marketplaces will also need to display (sec 3.1.2) detailed information of sellers or merchants, i.e., third-party users providing goods or services online. It gives detailed explanations about displaying product and services information in the marketplace, general rules, presentation of sale of goods or services in the marketplace, product delivery, advance payment price adjustment etc. As per guidelines, products presented online to the buyers should have a clear description for the consumer to have a realistic idea of what they are buying.
According to the new guidelines, an agreement must take place between the marketplace authority and the seller or merchant before the sale of goods or services through the marketplace (sec 3.1.16). Besides, the terms and conditions regarding the purchase of the product, such as return policies (sec 3.5.1,2,3), potential price change policies, delivery method and time, or product change policies should also be displayed by marketplaces.
According to the guideline, marketplace authorities will have to take appropriate action for complaints about products and services and appoint a compliance officer who can coordinate with other agencies, including the Department of Consumer Protection (sec 3.4.1).
Furthermore, the guideline has provided directives for perishable goods to be delivered as soon as possible and prohibited the sale of expired or adulterated goods (sec 3.3.8). If there is any special software or cookies on the seller’s website, the buyer needs to be informed in advance, the guidelines say (sec 3.1.6).
As per the guidelines, if any personal information needs to be collected the consumer’s prior consent must be obtained stating what information will be collected, where the information will be stored, and how it will be used (sec 3.1.7).
Digital marketplaces have been asked to get at least one trade licence that has to be displayed in the marketplace or social media page. A Unique Business Identification Number (UBIN) will be made mandatory for all digital commerce organizations in phases as per the guideline (sec 3.1.12). Market places will have to collect a licence from the Department of Drug Administration for the purchase and sale of medicines and medical supplies through digital means (3.1.5).
A certificate from a quality controlling authority also needs to be obtained in all cases where there is an obligation Sec 3.2.5). All the instruction and details of the products must be mentioned in the level in Bangla language and may be additionally in any other language (sec 3.1.17). This may through a challenge for the goods imported from other countries.
The guidelines also say, foreign marketplaces have to obtain a local license (sec 3.1.18) but there are no details of the procedure. The presence of overseas players usually takes a dominant rule in any market. Bangladesh must promote overseas investment with 100% FDI and by balancing the policy to look into interest of local players and consumers. Bangladesh yet to have an effective e-commerce policy of investment mentioning the such as marketplace model and inventory based model. Preference should be given to the marketplace model of ecommerce. The pure market place e-commerce company can only provide a platform for local third party buyers and sellers to come together and trade goods.
The e-Commerce guidelines finalized keeping 5-day delivery time and for buyers based in a different city from the sellers, e-commerce companies would have a maximum of 10 days to deliver goods after advance payment (sec 3.3.2). According to the guidelines, e-commerce platforms will hand over ordered products for delivery within 48 hours of receiving advance payment and they will also notify the customers via sms, email or phone calls (sec 3.2.10). In the next 72 hours, the delivery person or companies will supply the items to the clients.
For purchase with advance payment, the guidelines say e-commerce companies must already have the showcased items ready to ship – either in their own stock or with a registered third party. If a product is not ready for handover within 72 hours of the payment, the companies will not take more than 10% of the price in advance. A 100% advance payment can be charged in this case only through the Bangladesh Bank's escrow service (sec 3.2.10).
All types of digital wallets, gift cards, cash vouchers or any other medium which can be used as an alternative to cash cannot be launched (sec 3.1.9), used, bought or sold without the permission of Bangladesh Bank."
Bangladesh Bank has issued a directive that the advance payments will remain with the gateways, and will enter e-commerce platforms' accounts only after delivery. The cashback offers or discounts must be effective immediately after the sales as the e-commerce companies will not be allowed to keep the cashbacks in their wallets.
The growth of the industry has been inhibited by low usage of credit and debit cards (cash remains the major payment method) and the unavailability of or restrictions on major online transaction sites such as PayPal. There exist financial limitations procedure is a challenge to increasing e-commerce penetration rates. In particular, digital businesses are faced with limits for outbound payments in foreign currency for international transactions. In March 2017, Bangladesh’s central bank gave permission to state-owned Sonali Bank to launch online money-transfer services with PayPal in the country. But the policy should be relaxed further up to global level.
There should be Insurance policy for the protection of the businesses and consumers from larger accident and fraud incidents. Government yet to form e-Commerce Cell in the Ministry of Commerce as per e-Commerce Policy 2018. The e-commerce guideline 2021 has been issued by WTO Cell at Ministry of Commerce. Both e-Commerce policy 2018 and guideline 2021 is lacking redressal procedure. There should be a provision of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve the dispute between market place and supplier, career and consumers etc. Dispute Resolution Mechanism should be clearly stated and communicated properly to the stakeholders. Bangladesh has Arbitration Act and allow cross border implementation of arbitral judgement.
Bangladesh has now enough laws and policies. These may be updated and improve support services especially digital transactions from home and abroad.
The writer is Non-Government Adviser, Bangladesh Competition Commission. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Business Daily 24
Entrepreneurship, Business Ideas, Money
What is E-commerce and how does it work in Bangladesh
As it’s more popularly referred, the electronic commerce or e-commerce is defined as any form of trade or exchange of goods, services, and information while using electronic means. Since the dot-com boom and bust in the 90s, the application of e-commerce has been rapidly gaining acceptance globally.
It’s largely due to the ability of e-commerce to go beyond international boundaries and enable activities within the virtual marketplace at the level of international acceptance and popularity among businesses, especially small businesses, and entrepreneurs.
And at a relatively low cost, it enables entrepreneurs to do business internationally. Besides, it’s predictable to fare particularly well in developing countries in the e-commerce sector. As traffic jams and consequent of the restriction in physical mobility can constitute a significant barrier to business growth, this is perhaps more inevitable for a developing country like Bangladesh.
In addition, as the sector still considers being at an embryonic stage, some e-commerce businesses have risen to prominence in the context of Bangladesh. And after the ongoing phase of customer familiarization and comfort with e-commerce increases, its contribution to economic growth expects to increase exponentially.
An Overview of e-Commerce in Bangladesh
When Bangladesh needs widespread internet access or a reliable online transaction system, the e-Commerce sector has seen dramatic growth since the early 2000’s. And the country’s central bank authority, Bangladesh Bank, began permitting online transactions in 2009. Also, they come to provide permits allowable the purchase and sale of goods and services online using international credit cards.
Moreover, the number of internet users has nearly 3X from 6.5 percent of the population in 2013 to 18.2 percent in 2018 and continues to grow according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). A 17.8 percent of the population has a mobile-broadband subscription where only 2 percent of the population has a fixed-broadband connection. And the position of Bangladesh on the ITU’s ICT Index ranks 145 out of 175.
Besides, the trade body for eCommerce in Bangladesh, the eCommerce Association of Bangladesh (E-Cab) estimates there are 700 eCommerce sites and around 8,000 e-commerce pages on Facebook.
This is because Facebook remains a popular method for advertising and selling products, to a point that many businesses forgo creating websites. And according to a 2017 E-Cab report, a ten billion Taka (US$10 million) in transactions takes place on eCommerce sites per year.
How Does E-commerce Work in Bangladesh
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, 2006 was enacted in order to facilitate e-commerce and encourage the growth of information technology. Including provisions for imprisonment and/or fines for cyber-crimes, the ICT Act was passed.
For e-commerce and mobile commerce in Bangladesh, the enactment of the ICT Act has significant implications. By low usage of credit and debit cards (cash remains the major payment method), the growth of the industry has been inhibited. For example, there is the unavailability of major online transaction sites like PayPal.
But, State-own Sonali Bank announces it signs a memorandum of understanding with PayPal in June 2016. There are the following four types of eCommerce are popular in Bangladesh currently;
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
- Business-to-Employees (B2E)
In addition, there are some challenges to eCommerce in Bangladesh and they include:
- Insufficient delivery mechanisms
- A comparatively low internet penetration rate
- The shortage of a robust online transaction system
- The pervasiveness of online fraud
- Immature online marketing practices
Domestic eCommerce (B2C) in Bangladesh
As evidenced by the growth of online food delivery sites like HungryNaki and FoodPanda, B2C websites have become popular in large urban areas. Also, it’s helped drive demand for home delivery services despite highly congested roads and poor driving conditions.
Among the other initiatives of B2C, there are Facebook-based commerce platforms such as Shopr.bd and ShoptoBd which allow Bangladeshi customers to purchase products from leading online shopping sites in the USA, UK, India, and China. Related- Best Online Business Ideas in Bangladesh
C2C eCommerce Businesses in Bangladesh
Bikroy, Ekhanei, and ClickBD are the leading players in this category. As they are similar to eBay, they are individual and auction-based online marketplaces. Also, the C2C sector has seen some consolidation with Telenor Group purchasing CellBazar and Ekhanei.com purchasing playeOLX in more recent.
So, in the private sector, online employee recruitment is also growing larger. As a result, bdjobs.com, prothom-alojobs.com, and jobsA1 are the leading online job advertisers and recruiters.
Cross-Border e-Commerce in Bangladesh
Ass there are prevent most outward flows of foreign currency for consumer purposes, cross-border eCommerce remains largely reticent by a viable online transaction system and capital controls.
Moreover, irregular customs practices hinder the growth of cross-border eCommerce along with weak logistics infrastructure. But, DHL, a leading logistics provider and they have publicly announced plans to invest in cross-border eCommerce in the future.
B2B eCommerce in Bangladesh
There are engaged in providing manufacturing and supply-chain solutions by the several B2B websites in Bangladesh. In this case, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Employee Association (BGMEA) has deployed B2B e-commerce solutions for international RMG orders and procurement, for example. If you need details of B2B e-commerce business in Bangladesh, you can look at-
- Bangladesh Business Guide,
- Address bazaar
- And Biz Bangladesh
ECommerce Services in Bangladesh
As there are many Bangladeshi companies busy in eCommerce services, they have clients abroad, especially in North America. According to ECAB reports, there are approximately 550,000 freelancers in Bangladesh providing eCommerce or the similar services. Also, it’s not an issue of remitting payments from abroad into Bangladesh. Among freelancers in Bangladesh, Payoneer is a leading site for processing online payments. In the e-commerce services, Bangladeshi freelances do-
- Web design,
- Domain name purchasing,
- Secure hosting,
- Digital marketing and advertising,
- App development,
- And payment gateways etc
Online Payment via ECommerce Services in Bangladesh
Although there are some online payment systems, cash transactions are still the predominant financial transaction in Bangladesh. And more than 90 percent of eCommerce users in Bangladesh prefer the cash-on-delivery payment model according to ECAB.
Also, there are merchant accounts to facilitate credit card transactions for the most eCommerce business portals in Bangladesh. Although, almost all e-commerce websites offer multiple other payment methods, still cater to the consumer preferred cash-on-delivery system.
Mobile ECommerce in Bangladesh
There are 77.9% of inhabitants have a mobile phone subscription while 17.8 percent of inhabitants have a mobile broadband subscription according to the ITU’s latest Bangladesh profile states. Besides, Bangladesh has 99 percent geographical coverage in voice and data connectivity say e-Cab’s 2017 report states
Bangladesh - eCommerce Bangladesh - eCommerce
Overview The e-Commerce sector has seen dramatic growth since the early 2000’s when Bangladesh lacked widespread internet access or a reliable online transaction system. In 2009, the Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank authority, began permitting online transactions. In 2013, the Bangladesh Bank also permitted the purchase and sale of goods and services online using international credit cards. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the number of internet users has nearly tripled from 6.5 percent of the population in 2013 to 18.2 percent in 2017 and continues to grow. While only 2 percent of the population has a fixed-broad band connection, 30 percent of the population has a mobile-broad band subscription. Nonetheless, Bangladesh still ranks 147 out of 176 on the ITU’s ICT Development Index 2017, an annual report that captures the level of ICT development. The eCommerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab), the trade body for eCommerce in Bangladesh, estimates there are 700 eCommerce sites and around 8,000 eCommerce pages on Facebook. Facebook remains a popular method for advertising and selling products, to a point that many businesses forgo creating websites. Ten billion taka in transactions take place on eCommerce sites per year according to a 2017 e-Cab report. Current Market Trends Currently, the following four types of eCommerce are popular in Bangladesh:
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
- Business-to-Employees (B2E)
- Inadequate delivery mechanisms
- A relatively low internet penetration rate
- The lack of a robust online transaction system
- Prevalence of online fraud
- Undeveloped online marketing practices
Online Payment Cash transactions are still the predominant financial transaction method for the majority of the population. According to research by e-Cab, more than 90 percent of eCommerce users in Bangladesh prefer the cash-on-delivery payment model. Most eCommerce business portals in Bangladesh have integrated merchant accounts to facilitate credit card transactions. However, almost all eCommerce websites also offer multiple other payment methods and still cater to the consumer preferred cash-on-delivery system. Very few eCommerce businesses operate on the system of only delivering the product after receiving payment through a wire/bank transfer. Online payment remains limited but is growing in Bangladesh as a result of an increase in internet/mobile cell phone penetration, gridlocked traffic which discourages in-person shopping, and growing per-capita income levels. In 2009, the Bangladesh Bank introduced an online payment system facilitating fund transfers and online payments of utility bills by credit card. Since 2011, there have been important developments in financial transaction regulation (mobile payments, digital wallets, and smart cards) as well as transaction infrastructure (e.g., electronic funds transfer payment gateways). The creation of the Bangladesh Electronic Funds Transfer Network is a step towards developing a modern payment system infrastructure. This has created expanded business avenues for financial institutions as well as entrepreneurs to offer electronic or mobile payment processing services to the unbanked population. This area of electronic payment processing services has already attracted local and foreign investment. Investment areas for non-bank entrepreneurs cluster in the areas of solution development and operations for payment intermediary services, direct service delivery models in partnership with banks, and the development of value-added financial applications. Mobile eCommerce The ITU’s latest Bangladesh profile states that 88.1 percent of inhabitants have a mobile phone subscription while 30 percent of inhabitants have a mobile broadband subscription. e-Cab’s 2017 report states that Bangladesh has 99 percent geographical coverage in voice and data connectivity. Utility bill payment and remittance transfers via mobile phone were introduced in Bangladesh in 2006 and 2010 respectively through the country’s leading mobile operators and banks, and have become very popular with the masses. The government also authorized mobile operators to sell railway and bus tickets, and tickets to cricket matches organized by the Bangladesh Cricket Board using mobile phones, which have gained popularity. Currently, 28 banks have approvals to offer mobile financial services, with 20 already launching services. Mobile banking services in Bangladesh include cash-in, cash-out, merchant payments, utility payments, salary disbursement, foreign remittances, and fund transfers. Digital Marketing With strong growth in the number of mobile internet subscribers and growing digital infrastructure, more companies in Bangladesh are investing in digital marketing. While traditional media remains strong among older demographics, digital media is more popular among younger segments of the population. Fund allocation toward digital marketing remains modest at 5 to 10 percent across companies, but as conversion continues, this statistic is set to change drastically. Digital media has specifically become a strong tool for small and medium enterprises to strengthen their brand recognition. Restaurants, fashion stores, gadget shops, and lifestyle pages increasingly use digital marketing. Content development and digital media marketing are the most popular services that digital agencies currently offer. Online advertising is also slowly expanding as video platforms mature. Digital analytics is still in the development stages in Bangladesh and not yet widely used by businesses. Major Buying Holidays The major buying holidays in Bangladesh include the major Muslim holidays of Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha. Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Holidays, including Buddhist New Year, Durga Puja and Christmas, respectively, are also observed by segments of the population. Other major Bangladeshi holidays include: Bengali New Year (April 14), Independence Day (March 26), and Victory Day (December 26). Some of these holidays are based on religious calendar and depend on lunar sightings. Social Media Social media is widely used in Bangladesh. Facebook is the most prevalent of social media platforms with more than 29 million users in Bangladesh. Facebook is used to engage consumers and is also a major e-Commerce platform. There are over 8,000 e-commerce Facebook pages in Bangladesh, many of which are small businesses using solely Facebook to advertise and sell their products, ranging from clothes, beauty products to food. With faster internet connections, Google cache servers, and better streaming, YouTube is also gaining popularity in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh - eCommerce
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Assignment on Bangladesh enters into e-commerce Area
Bangladesh has recently entered into the world of e-commerce. Bangladesh Bank (BB) opened up the e-commerce transactions in the net in 2009. Subsequently Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited (DDBL) has launched Internet Payment Gateway (IPG) in the name of Nexus-Gateway in June, 2010 and BRAC Bank in December, 2010. Meantime, a few e-merchants have developed their web-sites and linked with the IPG of the banks.
Bangladesh has recently entered into the world of e-commerce. The complete journey of e-commerce has four steps. These include the go-ahead signal of the central bank, launching internet payment gateway (IPG) by commercial banks after obtaining go ahead signal of the central bank, development of appropriate website by e-merchants to display and sale their products and services, and buying of goods and services by the customers from the e-merchants.
Of late, the Bangladesh Bank – the central bank of Bangladesh – gave the green signal for the e-commerce transactions in Bangladesh in 2009. Consequent upon the opening of the e-commerce era in the country, Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited (DDBL) launched IPG in the name of Nexus-Gateway in June, 2010 and BRAC Bank, in December, 2010. Launching of IPG has practically opened up the door of e-commerce in Bangladesh.
Now interested e-merchants have, at least, two IPGs in Bangladesh where they can get connected and receive payment from the buyer’s credit/debit cards for their goods and services. At present the e-merchants can accept MasterCard (of any bank of the world) and 1.7 million DBBL-Nexus Cards through the IPG of DBBL, and Visa Card (of any bank of the world) through the IPG of BRAC Bank.
In Bangladesh, the e-commerce has overcome first two important steps. Implementing step- three is the responsibility of e-merchants and success of step-four lies with the use of customers.
Having the IPG in place, the e-merchants can now develop websites and display their products with picture and price. Alternatively the IT firms can develop and host appropriate web portals on behalf of the small merchants who want to sale goods and services in the web, but development and maintenance of website is not feasible for them. The IT firms can earn revenue from such merchants on transaction basis or on a monthly rental basis.
Meantime, desco.org.bd, chorka.com and clickbd.com have developed their own internet website and integrated with the IPG of DBBL. The sslcommerz.com.bd, a web portal integrated with the IPG of DBBL, has eleven e-merchants namely ekushey.com.bd, champs21.com, bdjobs.com, boi-mela.com, kenakata24-7.com, mydomainic.com, ebaybd.net, paribahan.com, rkmdhaka.org, ticketdao.com and star-ejobs.com.
The bangladeshbrand.com, amardesheshop.com, shurjomukhi.com.bd, technobd.com and bdjobs.com have their own websites for e-commerce that are integrated with the IPG of BRAC Bank.
The last but the most important initiative has to be taken by the customers by purchasing goods and services from the e-merchants’ websites / web portals using their debit/credit cards to make the e-commerce a success. The present usage statistics is not encouraging for all the parties: e-merchants, web portal deplorers and banks.
The merchant commission — a fee to be paid by the merchant to the bank in percentage of the sale value — is higher for e-commerce transaction than that of the POS transaction. The e-merchant also needs to pay a fee to the owner of the web portal if the website is not owned by him. On the other hand, an e-merchant does not require to establish shops at the prominent and costly locations of a city, they only have to maintain warehouses in various low cost locations from where they can deliver goods to the different parts of the city / country easily with minimum transportation cost.
The ultimate result is: the e-commerce players are at a competitive advantage to retailers. They have lower operating expenses and better inventory management due to operating in a virtual commerce environment. For example, amazon.com has revenue per employee of nearly $850k while its retail counterpart, Best Buy, generates revenue per employee of only $270k.
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E-Commerce Movers Awards (eCMA) 2023 to be held in Dhaka
With a goal to celebrate the outstanding keyplayers of the e-commerce industry in Bangladesh, the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) is once again organising the e-Commerce Movers Award (eCMA) 2023. The event is set to take place on the 9th November 2023 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dhaka.
The eCMA Awards aim to honour and acknowledge extraordinary contributions made by the market players of the e-commerce sector. There are in total 27 nomination categories including Best e-Commerce Marketplace, Best Service Platform, Best Logistics for e-commerce, Best Food Delivery Platform, Best MFS Platform, Best Payment gateway and many more which cover various aspects of the industry.
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The event will be graced by the presence of Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury MP, Honorable Speaker of the Parliament, as the Chief Guest, Salman F Rahman, MP as Guest of Honour, Mostafa Jabbar, Minister for Post and Telecommunication, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division and Nahim Razaak, MP will accompany as the Special Guest.
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Signify India Illuminates E-Commerce Landscape with Launch of Philips D2C Website
New Delhi, Delhi, India (NewsVoir) Signify, the world leader in lighting, is thrilled to announce the launch of its Philips Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) website, a groundbreaking initiative that promises to revolutionize the way customers experience lighting. With an extensive selection of over 1000 consumer products across various categories, Signify India's new platform, In.shop.lighting.philips.com, is designed to provide unmatched ease, convenience, and accessibility for its valued customers. Here's what you can expect from the website: Comprehensive Product Range: You'll find Signify's innovative lighting solutions on the website, including Philips, Smart Wi-Fi products, and much more with free delivery and 7 days return policy. Nationwide Reach: The website will cater to customers across India, ensuring that people from all regions can benefit from its lighting solutions. Festive Season Delights: As the festive season approaches, customers can look forward to exciting offers and promotions on the website. Digital Success: Signify India has experienced substantial growth through digital platforms like Amazon, Blinkit, Myntra and Flipkart. The new D2C website, with its extensive range of products, is set to further enhance this growth as it complements the limited product offerings on these platforms. Virtual store: Customers can look forward to a seamless shopping experience with the potential integration of virtual store, enhancing the product exploration journey. At our Virtual Store, customers can delve into the details of each product. Learn about their features, materials, and the inspiration behind their designs. Company Warranty: In recognizing the evolving landscape, the prevalent dominance of the market by Chinese imports, tends to be devoid of warranties and spares availability, significantly undermining the overall product quality. The allure of these products may be deceptive, as they often fall short of delivering the promised quality and longevity. This influx of substandard products poses a significant challenge to consumers seeking reliable and enduring lighting solutions. Signify's commitment is to provide an alternative that stands in stark contrast to these challenges. Sumit Joshi, CEO, Signify India, shares his excitement, "We are delighted to announce our presence now on our own D2C website. Our Philips D2C website is a testament to our commitment to delivering superior lighting experiences. We have meticulously studied consumer behavior, trends, and patterns to ensure unmatched customer satisfaction. Our way of working with modern trade concepts in the electrical industry has borne fruit, and we aim to replicate this success in the realm of e-commerce.” With this groundbreaking E-Shop, Signify reasserts its commitment to pioneering innovation in the electrical and digital building infrastructure industry, setting new standards for customer satisfaction and convenience. Visit In.shop.lighting.philips.com to explore the world of Signify India's lighting solutions from the comfort of your home. A sneak peek at website launch Video: Facebook: www.facebook.com/watch?v=1452914005441348 Instagram: www.instagram.com/p/CzA-3YNInUH/?hl=en (Disclaimer: The above press release comes to you under an arrangement with Newsvoir and PTI takes no editorial responsibility for the same.). PTI PWR PWR
(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)