In recent months e-Commerce has become a centre of attention across the nation. The reason behind is, a few e-commerce platforms has become source of dissonance for buyers and suppliers. The magnitude of scam is high and the potential loss of buyers and suppliers is staggering.
In business, one can offer any amount of discount on purchase, unless there is any legal bar. In this case, there was no legal bar. In business, you can sell your goods taking advance payment, payment of delivery or on credit. There is nothing wrong unless there are legal boundaries. Then what went wrong?
A few Bangladeshi e-commerce platform owners were very innovative. Banking on the ‘greed’ of customers and their lack understanding how business works, the fraudster businesses converted them into investors or wholesalers. The customers did not think, how one can buy something at a higher price and sell at a lower price and sustain their business, unless the business is a cover-up for some unscrupulous trade. The success of any Ponzi scheme depends on how one can fool the gut feelings of a group of consumers, who would continue to believe the business until it is too late. The question is, was it only ‘greed’ or lack of education of the customers, or lack of fraud-checkers? I think both.
Now, the legitimate question is who is going to pay back to the suppliers, many of them sprung in the heat of sales campaign, mobilizing financial resources from multiple sources and pouring into the scam. Who is going to pay the ‘so-called’ customers cum investors cum wholesalers? No one else, other than the business itself. And they do not have ability to do that, as money is either siphoned or wasted. It is possible that the siphoned money is brought back and used for reimbursing the customers and suppliers, and probably partially. Several extra ordinary measures have been taken, although not clear whether to save the perpetrators or the customers/investors/suppliers. Some of them are in violation of existing legal framework. One can just observe and see what happens next. However, the history says, it will not go in favor of customers/investors/suppliers, as we have observed with Destiny, Jubok and others.
This article would like to focus on the mainstream e-commerce sector and how to protect the stakeholders from any wrongdoing, domestically and from international fraudsters, as well as promote the sector.
A vibrant e-commerce sector is about thousands of small suppliers and producers, newly grown supply chain and logistics players, creating jobs for millions and of course the consumers, who can access to array of products and services, which was not possible before, and sitting at home. How to create an ecosystem, which will foster growth of genuine players and abate the wrong-doers? A few concrete steps are presented here, based on the discussions at e-Commerce Policy Talk, held on October 15, 2021 organized by e-CAB.
It is revealed from the discussions at the e-Commerce Policy Talk, that dysfunctional institutions also caused in getting the fraudulence bigger. The sponsorship scheme of the fraudster companies was pervasive and all institutions, who are supposed to prevent fraudulence were beneficiaries of the fraudsters. The lack of accountability and impunity and lack of ethical code of conducts are the reasons behind such happenings. How to address the paralysis of institutions or their bodies, this is a million-dollar question.