Lots of mobile applications were entering the market, policies related to the monetization of mobile applications still did not exist
Despite an increased role of digital platforms creating more opportunities for a digital economy, speakers on Monday said that building trust and confidence of users in Bangladesh is still an upward climb.
They made their remarks during a virtual dialogue titled "Digital Platform: Economy in Bangladesh" organized by the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and the Bangladesh office of the German social development organization Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (EBS.)
According to a paper published during the dialogue, online payment in Bangladesh increased from Tk168 crore in 2016 to Tk1,978 crore in 2019. It is projected to reach Tk4,000 crore, thanks to the surge in online transactions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report also observed that although lots of mobile applications were entering the market, policies related to the monetization of mobile applications still did not exist.
It recommended formulating a 5-year national digital platform economy development plan, and creating a national guideline for using and preserving the data generated from the digital platforms.
It also asked for amendment of consumer rights protection laws which will also encompass digital platforms.
Also, a conducive environment must be created for foreign investors to invest in Bangladesh's digital platforms.
Experts also advised bringing companies and workers in the digital platforms under the tax net, which has been scarce.
Additionally, tax holidays must be provided for new companies entering the digital economy.
Prof Mostafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of CPD, said that consumers are being deceived during online transactions as the government is unable to control it.
Emphasizing robotics and blockchain technology, he added: "Blockchain technology is the most successful technology, especially for the health sector. But this technology is not being used in our country.”
Farhana A Rahman, senior vice-president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information (BASIS), said that Bangladesh is the second largest country in the world that consists of freelancers. This huge number of freelancers were paid from abroad through PayPal.
"But they are unable to cash out their hard-earned money from Paypal, as no mechanisms in the country are in order," she added.
Abdul Matin Emon, CEO of Doctorola Limited, said: "The calculation of the participation of digital platforms in our country's economy is not accurate. It is difficult to say exactly what to do. ”
He endorsed the formulation of an apt policy to increase the proportion of digital platforms in the country's economy.
Besides, Hossain Elius, co-founder and CEO of Pathao, said that Bangladesh is not able to produce high quality programmers.
Due to the unfavorable environment in the country, many of them leave for better opportunities abroad, he added.
Fahmida Khatun, executive director of CPD, and Felix Kolbitz, resident representative of FES Bangladesh office, delivered the introductory remarks at the dialogue.
Fahad Ifaz, CEO of iFarmer, also spoke at the dialogue.