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India launches pilot phase of open e-commerce network

The pilot phase of Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a first-of-its-kind initiative globally to pave way for democratising digital commerce to enhance the penetration of digital commerce in the country, was launched here on Friday.

Described as “game changing idea to democratise commerce” by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, the initiative aims to promote an open platform for all aspects of the exchange of goods and services through electronic networks.

“After UPI, another game changing idea to democratise commerce – ONDC soft launch today to select consumers, sellers and logistics providers. Get ready for a world of choice, convenience and transparency,” Piyush Goyal said in a tweet earlier in the day.

Sujith Nair, co-founder of the ONDC, told ANI that the platform aims at providing equitable access to small and medium businesses to make their goods and services available to a large set of consumers online.

“The idea is decentralisation and democratisation of commerce in India, where we are looking at small businesses like kirana stores, small restaurants, and small-medium sellers to be able to find a way to do business online. To give them equitable access to making their goods and services available to a large set of consumers, that is our vision,” he said.

Chief Operating Officer of ONDC Vibhor Jain demonstrated a live transaction and described the soft launch as a “historic moment”.

“We have teams from the buyer side of the network, seller side of the network and a logistics team as well,” he said while explaining the basic structure of the application.

The ONDC seeks to promote open networks for all aspects of the exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks. ONDC is based on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform.

ONDC goes beyond the current platform-centric digital commerce model where the buyer and seller have to use the same platform or application to be digitally visible and do a business transaction.

It is expected to make e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for consumers.

Consumers can potentially discover any seller, product or service by using any compatible application or platform, thus increasing freedom of choice for consumers.

It will enable the consumers to match demand with the nearest available supply. This would also give consumers the liberty to choose their preferred local businesses.

ONDC would standardise operations, promote inclusion of local suppliers, drive efficiencies in logistics and lead to enhancement of value for consumers.

ONDC has been incubated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) at the Quality Council of India.

It has been incorporated as a private, non-profit (Section-8) company. Twenty government, as well as private organisations of national repute, have confirmed investments of Rs 255 crore. ANI

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