The government is going to take steps to pay back Tk 2.14 billion stuck at different payment gateways by e-commerce customers within the next three months.
The decision came at a special meeting on the troubled e-commerce sector held at the commerce ministry on Monday with commerce minister Tipu Munshi in the chair.
PM's private industry and investment adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, post and telecoms minister Mustafa Jabbar, state minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak, commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh attended the event.
Representatives from cabinet division, different ministries and state agencies, Bangladesh Bank, FBCCI, e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, among others, were also present.
"We've discussed the return of the money of customers of different e-commerce platforms stuck at different gateways. This is a big issue. The Bangladesh Bank (BB) will work on it," says Mr Tipu.
Government agencies are working to pay back the money that was paid in advance by customers from July 01 until October 14, he adds.
"…It will take time to clear the funds to the customers concerned. We've also discussed the legal complexities regarding the return of the stuck money."
Customers paid in advance to the e-commerce firms concerned during the period in question but did not get delivery of the ordered products yet.
A process is well underway to develop automation software by the ICT division to pay back the money to the affected consumers, mentions Mr Tipu.
However, no decision was taken regarding the settlement of the money that was due before July. It depends on court order, according to the meeting.
Mr Tipu hopes it will take three months' time to bring all the e-commerce issues under a system.
State agencies will ensure implementation of unique business identification number, central logistic tracking platform and central complaint management system to be developed by the ICT division within the next three months.
Meanwhile, Mr Palak said no new law would be needed for the e-commerce sector.
On June 30, the central bank introduced an escrow service on payments to e-commerce platforms.
Some Tk 2.14 billion has been blocked at payment gateways for not delivering goods to customers who paid various platforms for the items, a BB official said.
Necessary steps will be taken to pay back the stuck after the legal knot is over, he added.
A process is also underway to give licence to the payment gateways that are still unlicensed.