Bangladesh is still one of the least prepared countries for e-commerce, to be more precise, online shopping, according to UNCTAD's Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index 2020.
The country’s global ranking in the index declined sharply to 115th position in 2020 from 103rd in 2019.
In South Asia, only Pakistan (116th) and Afghanistan (143rd) ranked below Bangladesh. Nepal (113rd) and Bhutan (114th) are just ahead of Bangladesh. Sri Lanka ranked 91st while India secured 71st position.
The index scores 152 nations on their readiness for online shopping by calculating the average of four indicators -- share of individuals using the internet, share of individuals with an account, secure internet servers and UPU postal reliability score -- using data for 2019 or the latest available.
Thus the latest index didn’t take overall impact of Covid-19 which gives a big push to online shopping in many developing countries like Bangladesh.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in its 2020 edition of the B2C e-commerce Index, said that countries at the opposite end of the index are ‘trailing the most behind in terms of the readiness to engage in and benefit from e-commerce.’
Out of the 20 economies with the lowest value in the 2020 index, 18 are least developed countries (LDCs), with Congo and Syrian Arab Republic being the only non-LDCs in this group.
Though Bangladesh is not at the bottom 20 and benefited from UNCTAD’s Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments of LDCs, the country’s overall index value declined by 5.8 to 33.3 in 2020.
Bangladesh scored very poor in the first indicator which estimates the share of individuals using the internet. UNCTAD, however, used 2017 data to estimate the value for the indicator and update data was not available during the construction of the index.
The country’s score in third and fourth indicators, secure internet servers and UPU postal reliability score respectively, was also poor.
Bangladesh, however, scored better in the second indicator which estimates account ownership at a financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider of population ages 15 years or more.
UNCTAD index also showed that Europe remained by far the most prepared region for e-commerce and for the first time, Switzerland leads the Index, just ahead of the Netherlands. In 2019, 97 per cent of the Swiss population used the internet. The only non-European economies among the top 10 are Singapore, ranked fourth, and Hong Kong (China), in the 10th position.
Countries are scored on access to secure internet servers, reliability of postal services and infrastructure, and the portion of their population that uses the internet and has an account with a financial institution or a provider of mobile money services.
The four largest increases in index scores were recorded in developing countries Algeria, Brazil, Ghana and Lao People's Democratic Republic, whose scores surged by at least five points, largely due to significant improvements in postal reliability.