Alesha Mart says it subsidized approximately Tk210 crore in the last six months with non-public fund sources, incurring a turnover of Tk1,100 crore

Alesha Mart, an e-commerce platform with which several banks and mobile financial service (MFS) bKash recently suspended transactions, claimed on Sunday that the online store is a victim of generalization.

“We have been merely a victim of generalization. Our name has been dragged alongside other digital marketplaces that had been illegally operating using public funds,” said Monzur Alam Sikder, the chairman of Alesha Holdings — the parent company of Alesha Mart.

He made remarks at a press conference organized by Alesha Holdings in Gulshan’s Westin hotel.

“We do not use public funds and have only subsidized bikes and a few other products, from internal resources. We feel that the demand for motorbikes is high among the people of the country. So, we have given a little more discount on this product,” he added.

According to the chairman, this is not unique to Bangladesh; all other countries use this strategy to minimize promotional costs.

“But some people are using the money of the buyers to fund the discount,” said Alam.

During the press conference, he highlighted that Alesha Mart had subsidized approximately Tk210 crore in the last six months with non-public fund sources, incurring a turnover of Tk1,100 crore.

The e-commerce platform also claimed that it had no pending payments to vendors and after serving 300,000 orders to date, it received only 10 complaints under the Consumer Rights Act, most of which have been settled.

However, according to the Directorate of National Consumers’ Rights Protection (DNCRP), Alesha Mart had the lowest complaint settlement rate at 10%, settling only one complaint so far.

Recently, several financial institutions including Brac Bank, Bank Asia, Dhaka Bank, City Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Prime Bank, and bKash suspended transactions with Alesha Mart, as well as other online stores.

The other merchants are Evaly, Dhamaka Shopping, E-orange, Sirajganj Shop, Aladiner Prodip, Qcoom, Boom Boom, Adyan Mart, and Needs.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, the head of Corporate Communications at bKash stated that they had suspended transactions to protect customers’ interest.

“We are working closely to implement regulatory guidelines of a payment system for e-commerce. In the meantime, to protect customers’ interests, the payment gateway service of bKash has been temporarily suspended for a few merchants,” he added.

When the payment system is implemented in compliance with the regulatory guidelines, services will resume again, he further said.

Md Serajul Islam, the spokesperson of Bangladesh Bank, said they have only reported on the discrepancies of Evaly, and following media reports, institutions had severed their relationship with e-commerce platforms that followed the same pattern.

The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) of the central bank had also sought the bank account details of 11 e-commerce merchants, including Alesha Mart.

But it had done so after the financial institutions severed ties with the online platforms.

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