Towards a booming e-commerce sector

A recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts, encouragingly but unsurprisingly, that Bangladesh’s e-commerce sector will triple in size by 2023. Although growth is long overdue, it should not be taken for granted. The report projects that the local e-commerce sector is expected to be worth Tk26,000 crore ($3 billion) next year, a three-fold growth from its current market size of $1 billion.

The immense potential of the e-commerce sector has always been known in theory, but a lack of smartphone penetration and market education, among other factors, had prevented the sector to grow up. The effect of the pandemic has forced the market to make many connections that would likely have taken much longer.

As a result, the e-commerce industry has been able to circumvent many milestones, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for market education, and forcing consumers to trust the industry out of necessity. IIt is undoubtedly a matter of high hopes that the sector has created 200,000 new jobs during the pandemic, proving that e-commerce deserves all the political support it needs.

Policy makers need to ensure that proper guidelines are created to help the sector maintain its momentum. In particular, it is essential to help mobile financial services (MFS) with political support. The AfDB report found that companies that have increased their use of information technology, especially MFS, are on track to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The success of MFS can be much greater if interoperability is allowed, which will also help create a more sustainable market environment and support a reliable ecosystem. The path to a substantial and growing e-commerce sector is clear. The authorities must ensure that the opportunity is seized so that the country can soon have a highly developed e-commerce sector.