Transparent automation, easy regulations, access to finance, inter-ministerial coordination, easy tax structure, cross border digital commerce trade facilitation are key to foster e-commerce in Bangladesh, stakeholders said at a discussion on Saturday.
The discussion titled “Building a Sustainable Ecosystem for E-commerce” was organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI). Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh joined the discussion as the chief guest.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman said the e-commerce ecosystem saw a massive vibe in recent past.
"Despite we have seen some challenges the sector is facing recently, but with the intervention of the government, regulators and stakeholders a sustainable development will come in the sector," he said.
According to an estimated data, in 2020 transaction in the e-commerce business was about USD2 billion, which may increase up to USD2.5 billion in the current year.
In 2020 transaction in only f-commerce sector was about 320 crore taka.
He also said that 15% VAT imposed on e-commerce sector may hamper the growth of small investors in this sector. Moreover if international market leaders like Amazon comes in our market, it may create opportunity for local CMSME traders and manufacturers, he said.
Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said private sector is playing the dominant role in the economy.
In the e-commerce, reliability is the key issue to help this sector to grow, he said.
"Government does not want to impose strong regulations upon the sector so that small entrepreneurs can come on board easily. Recently the Escrow system to see the compliance has been introduced but the number of transactions fell down."
He suggested for a coordinated platform to overview the compliance and said that government is working hard to create a congenial regulatory atmosphere for e-commerce business.
Barrister K. M. Tanjib-ul-Alam, Head of the Chamber, Tanjib Alam and Associates also underscored importance of reliability for a sustainable market.
He urged for a proper policy and guidelines with a scope of reward and punishment.
"Government should come forward to safeguard the ecosystem, he added. Government should upgrade the national postal system so that ecommerce platform can utilize this trusted system," he said.
Fahim Ahmed, President, Pathao said policy and regulatory guidelines are needed for a sustainable ecosystem.
"Unsuccessful ecommerce platforms with a huge liability and discounting method cannot sustain in the market as it is not economically viable. Based on short term investment and huge discount-giving model may create a bad name to the industries. For creating infrastructure, technological assistance and to create confidence of consumers long term investment is needed," he said.
Khorshed Anwar, Deputy Managing Director, Eastern Bank Limited said small e-commerce, start-ups or f-commerce entrepreneurs are sometimes deprived of access to finance due to lack of documentation. We are working on the issue and do training programmes for the small start-ups.
Khondoker Tasfin Alam, Chief Operating Officer, Daraz Bangladesh said excessive discounting model is not sustainable.
Customer readiness as well as seller’s readiness is equally important. Sometimes wrong model can become famous for the time being but it is not sustainable but will hamper the ecosystem.
He also said that Daraz Bangladesh has already invested BDT 500 crore in last two years in logistic infrastructure. He lastly emphasized on improving products quality for sustainability.
Ashish Chakraborty, Chief Information Officer, Nagad said Mobile Financial service plays a vital role in ecommerce.
Customers from rural area can get products from anywhere in the country using mobile wallet. Bangladesh Bank now allows small investors having NID to be on board which is a good move, he said.
For the growth, he emphasized on full automation of this sector and this system will ensure service delivery information.
Muhammed Abdul Wahed Tomal, General Secretary, e-CAB said that the ecommerce sector in Bangladesh has got a tremendous growth right at this moment which was supposed to come in 2030.
"The growth momentum came at a faster rate due to Covid, he informed. E-commerce is an integrated sector where agencies like Bangladesh Bank, NBR, LGRD, Commerce Ministry, ICT Division all are involved. Regarding Escrow service he suggested to make it more automated and easy functioning."
Khairul Majid Mahmud, Director, DCCI, Sameer Sattar, former Director, DCCI and Riyadh Hossain, former Vice President, DCCI also spoke on the occasion. DCCI Senior Vice President N.K.A. Mobin, FCS, FCA gave vote of thanks.