ONDC to give public access by August, has 150 entities on board yet
Seven companies – one buyer side app, five seller side apps, and one logistics service provider app – have built their own ONDC compatible apps
Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), the ambitious programme of the Union government to democratise the fast-growing e-commerce sector, will start opening up its platform for public use by August, said senior officials.
ONDC has started its pilot in six cities and is seeing good transactions. “As we get more sellers on the platform, we will start opening it up for the public as well. At present, we have 150 entities. Of these, seven have gone live, 10 more will go live in a few months and 70 entities will get integrated on to the network by the end of this year,” said T Koshy, chief executive officer of ONDC.
Seven companies — one buyer side app, five seller side apps, and one logistics service provider app — have built their own ONDC compatible apps. To begin with, Koshy said, ONDC was focusing on two sectors — grocery and food.
To bring more offerings to the network, ONDC joined hands with Nabard and launched a first-of-its-kind hackathon for the agriculture segment. The sector would include farmers, artisans, farm producers, etc. The innovation challenge awards are up to Rs 30 lakh.
The hackathon received 700 applications, of which 400 have been selected. For the next three days, they will work on solutions that will bring ease of accessibility for farmers.
Some of the solutions that the hackathon is looking at is developing a prototype that allows contextualised search for farm input, creating a prototype for fast digitisation of catalogs, and lifecycle management of digital catalog, among others.
“The idea is to create awareness so that opportunities can be created for everyone within the network. This hackathon is focused on giving solutions to nine real-life problems. With Nabard, the idea is to reach out to farmers. The objective of the government is double the farmer income. A very important aspect in that value chain is to provide better prices to their produce,” he said.
When asked about the impact of the changes to the GST Council’s announcement to waive mandatory registration for small businesses, Koshy said it would benefit the smaller players and would aid ONDC.
“Earlier if you were a seller and doing business online irrespective of your size, you had to have a GST registration. That has been removed and, instead, a threshold has been announced,” Koshy said.
ONDC has been created to break the monopoly of some platforms —Amazon, Flipkart, etc — in the e-commerce segment.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, while addressing the launch of the hackathon, said: “As a country, we need to have a market that is open to all sellers and buyers. India is a market of more than a billion, the existing system gives access to the only privileged buyers and sellers. We have implemented this ONDC protocol that will help any buyer and any seller to talk and transact. We are expecting that there will be many entities like the telcos (Airtel and Vodafone) and banks like SBI who have digital consumers. But now, these consumers will be open to any seller. And this is a humongous opportunity for the seller community.”
ONDC, which is a Section 8 company, also received its first tranche of fundraise from institutions that are backing it. “ONDC is backed by 20 institutions and each of them has put in Rs 10 crore each. We have received Rs 155 crore and the rest will be issued to us in some time,” said Koshy.
The institutions backing ONDC include five top public sector banks, BSE, NSE, NSDL, NPCI, Nabard, Sebi, and others.
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