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Money stuck in payment gateways

BB seeks opinion from govt

Published : 03 Nov 2021 10:21 PM | Updated : 04 Nov 2021 10:38 AM

Tnline shoppers who paid money but did not get products are likely to get their money back as Bangladesh Bank (BB) has sought an opinion from the government on payback of over Tk 2.14 billion stuck up in different payment gateways.

"The central bank has already sought opinion from the concerned authorities of the government on payback of over Tk 2.14 billion in e-commerce customers' money stuck up in different payment gateways," said a BB official.

He said Bangladesh Bank sent a letter to the commerce ministry recently in this regard.

The BB official said since the issue of paying back the customers’ money that the e-commerce companies owed to the customers cannot be settled in the form of supplying products, the BB had requested the government for its opinion as to how such funds can be paid back.

On June 30, the central bank introduced an escrow service on payments to e-commerce platforms.

Since the issuance of a circular on October 14, 2021 over the botched e-commerce issue, over Tk 5.05 billion had been paid to the payment gateways by the customers concerned against goods they had ordered.

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Of the amount, the payment gateways have already settled over Tk 2.91 billion to the online marketplaces.

The remaining over Tk 2.14 billion got stuck in the different service-providing firms, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), shurjoMukhi, Foster, bKash, Nagad, and Southeast Bank Ltd.

Of the stuck-up amount, over Tk 1.65 billion of Qcoom online shopping, paid by its customers against ordered goods, has been stuck up with Foster Payments, according to the BB letter.

Complexities cropped up in payback of the money stuck in the payment gateways due to shutdown of operations of such e-commerce platforms concerned, it is mentioned in the central bank letter.

"The e-commerce companies may claim the amount paid to their clients by them if it is proven that they supplied earlier products to the customers concerned," said the letter sent by the Payment Systems Department of BB.

Officials familiar with the issue said that the authorities concerned would sit in a day or two with the cabinet division to discuss how to pay back blocked funds in line with the BB request.

In a recent meeting, officials of the commerce ministry and BB would be present to deal with the much-discussed matter of e-commerce bust, which, meanwhile, has landed in higher court following a writ petition. 

Commerce ministry officials who are involved with the e-commerce issue would not make any comment on the BB letter as well as the meeting that will be held at the cabinet division.

Earlier, in a special meeting on the troubled e-commerce sector held at the commerce ministry on October 25, 2021 with commerce minister Tipu Munshi in the chair, the government had decided to take steps to pay back Tk 2.14 billion stuck in different payment gateways to e-commerce customers in three months.

"We've discussed 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," said Tipu Munshi.

The government agencies are working to pay back the money that was paid in advance by customers from July 01 until October 14, he adds.

The amount of Tk 2.14 billion has been blocked at payment gateways for not delivering goods to customers who paid various platforms for the items, the BB official said.

The government authority has already taken multiple steps in the wake of various scandals by dubious e-commerce platforms such as Evaly, E-orange, Dhamaka Shopp-ing, Sirajganj Shop etc.