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Dhaka Tribune

People still can’t get back money stuck in payment gateways

According to official data, the Commerce Ministry has been able to refund Tk310 crore of consumer money from a total of Tk525 crore that was stuck in payment gateways since the introduction of the escrow system

Update : 28 Dec 2022, 07:44 PM

Around Tk215 crore is still stuck with payment gateways, remaining inaccessible by its rightful owners after more than a year and a half following the e-commerce scam in the country.

According to official data, the Commerce Ministry has been able to refund Tk310 crore of consumer money from a total of Tk525 crore that was stuck in payment gateways since the introduction of the escrow system. 

The central bank introduced the escrow system on June 30, 2021, to ensure payment to e-commerce platforms is made only following the delivery of consumer products that were ordered against the payments.

The ministry, on the other hand, created a list of 27 platforms that were accused of defrauding customers.

Of those 27, around 14 platforms still did not refund any money belonging to around 25,000 customers, with only 13 of them refunding some fraction of the money. 

Sirajganj Shop, Needs, 24 TKT, E-Orange, Wecoom, Akash Neel, Aladinerprodip, Sofetik, Amar Bazar, Astha Pratik, Barirdokan.com, Infinity Marketing Limited and a few others are of those 14 platforms.

Evaly is also one of those platforms that did not return consumer money. However, despite expressing the willingness of returning the money, the platform was not able to provide details of its consumers or owed money. The consumers of the platform remained unidentified for that reason.

Apart from evaly, E-Orange, Dhamaka Shopping, Sirajganj Shop, Aladdinerprodip and Sofetik have also written to the ministry expressing the willingness of refunding their customers. 

However, according to sources, Qcoom has moved products from their old warehouse, while the bank accounts of Aladinerprodip and Sirajganj Shop have been seized, for which the platforms could not take the initiative to return the money. 

On the other hand, Dhamaka Shopping has intercompany debt and the owner of the company has asked for time to provide details on the loan.

Although the Commerce Ministry has been assuring customers of refunding their money, there has been no solution to get the money back, according to the consumers of the platforms.

Stakeholders involved with the refund process said that bureaucratic, as well as legal loopholes surrounding alleged money laundering by some e-commerce platforms, have delayed the refunding process.  

“It is difficult to get money back from platforms that have money laundering cases against them despite being vetted by the Law Ministry and receiving the approval of the central bank. We are still working to find a solution to it,” Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh told the media following an inter-ministerial meeting recently. 

Moreover, according to the central bank's Deputy Director Anwar Ullah, there is an ongoing conflict between Sirajganj Shop and Nagad. According to other sources at the central bank, only Aladinerprodip has more than Tk5 crore in its bank account.

According to the ministry, the consumer fund has been stuck in 5 payment gateways including bkash, Nagad, Software Shop Limited (SSL), Shurjomukhi Limited and Foster Corporation.

Most of the e-commerce platforms have chosen MFS provider Nagad and SSL as their payment gateway for financial transactions. 

However, the largest amount of money is stuck in Foster Corporation, which is about Tk382 crores.

As per ministry data, around Tk89.69 crore of money is stuck in SSL, Tk26.21 crore in Shurjomukhi Limited, Tk20.69 crore in Nagad and Tk4.92 crore in bKash.

Meanwhile, around Tk26 crore of customer money is owed by Evaly. Out of this, Tk18 crore are stuck with Nagad, around Tk5 crore in bKash and Tk3 crore in SSL. 

On the other hand, around Tk34.54 crore of E-Orange customers' money is stuck in SSL.


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