E-commerce transactions hit five-month low

Appetite for purchases through online platforms using cards declined in July from a month ago, as people became cautious in placing orders when a series of scams centring e-commerce companies started coming to the light.

In July, customers spent Tk 740 crore on products and services, which is the lowest in five months and 42 per cent less than June's Tk 1,277 crore, according to data by Bangladesh Bank.

There was, however, 15 per cent year-on-year growth in July this year. In the same month last year, people bought Tk 640 crore of products. 

In terms of number of transactions, consumers placed 2 per cent less orders in July than June. Total number of transactions was 24.3 lakh in July, down from 24.8 lakh in June, according to Bangladesh Bank data.

This was the first time since September last year purchases through online marketplaces declined as reports of anomalies of some e-commerce platform come to the public.    

E-commerce had been growing over the last decade and the growth accelerated after the rising infections of coronavirus disease forced people to stay home and place orders online to buy goods and services. 

Customers became cautious after a Bangladesh Bank inspection report on Evaly found that the e-commerce platform had huge asset liabilities mismatch.

The central bank found that Evaly had over Tk 400 crore liabilities against current asset of Tk 65 crore as of March 14 this year -- a gap that prompted the commerce ministry to ask Evaly to explain the whereabouts of around Tk 338 crore that the platform owed to customers and merchants. 

Law enforcing agencies arrested Evaly Managing Director Mohammad Rassel and its Chairman Shamima Nasrin last week while top officials of another e-commerce platform e-Orange were also sent to jail and had been under trial on allegation of embezzlement of customers' money.

Bangladesh Bank data showed transaction through e-commerce platforms crossed Tk 1,000 crore mark for the first time in May this year as people found the online purchase convenient and helpful to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Transaction hit the highest in terms of value in June this year since December 2010 when customers bought only Tk 185 crore worth of goods and services online.


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