Open Network For Digital Commerce – Another Indian Digital Public Good In The Making

Open Network For Digital Commerce – Another Indian Digital Public Good In The Making

ONDC Introduces "ONDC Network Gift Card" To Boost Digital Commerce This Festive Season

India has developed some of the finest digital public goods infrastructure which could change lives the world over, and next in line could be its Open Network for Digital Commerce which currently is in its nascent stage of adoption.

India has taken the path of building public digital infrastructure for serving citizens and UPI, and Jan Dhan, Aadhar and CoWin are some of the examples. Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is aimed at promoting open source networks for all to exchange goods and services on the internet, and most importantly it is independent of any specific platform.

Incorporated on December 31, 2021, 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.

“We are enabling unbundling of building blocks in e-commerce (space) and make a protocol that will help them talk to each other seamlessly so that there is an end experience by buyers or sellers,” Thampy Koshy, ONDC’s MD and CEO told reporters on Thursday.

Sharing information about the onboarding of merchants’ participation on the platform, Koshy said it rose from just 800-odd in December 2022 to about 40,000-50,000 at present. A majority of them have joined in the past few weeks.
Currently, grocery and food items merchants are mostly part of it, but beauty, fashion, personal care products, and electronics, among others, are joining in and going live on the platform.

He likened ONDC’s adoption with the initial days of UPI, and noted that in the coming times, the onboarding on the ONDC platform will jump.

Launched in 2016, UPI has brought a revolution in the payment ecosystem. UPI, an instant payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, merging several banking features for seamless fund transfer.

Official data provided by the government showed the number of digital transactions in India increased from 2,071 crore in the financial year 2017-18 to 8,840 crore transactions in 2021-22. In 2022-23 till December, the numbers were 9,192 crore.

Joint Secretary at the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Sanjiv, has said ONDC is here as a public good and not with the intention of making money out of it.

“We are not here for making money. The basic difference between other platforms and ONDC is that the latter is a public good, and not to make money,” Sanjiv told reporters, asserting that it will gradually develop its own self-sustaining model.

“We will be having buyers and merchants and sellers in each of the pincodes of India, meaning every inch of India will be covered by participants of ONDC. This is our dream and we will achieve it very soon,” Sanjiv added.
Sanjiv again reiterated ONDC is not here to compete with anybody, but the narrative is that every Indian (irrespective of buyer, seller, or merchant), just like the UPI, should have ease of doing business and the platform will just provide all kinds of support that are needed.

“Our core focus is to digitise the undigitised and semi-digitised. Thanks to UPI our country has already moved far ahead in the digital path,” Sanjiv said.


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