Govt to stop online companies from building special platforms for ONDC

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The Indian government has announced that it will not allow e-commerce companies to build a special platform for Open Network Digital Commerce (ONDC). Instead, these companies must onboard the main online platform, which connects a network of buyers and sellers, to offer their buyers the option of coming on the network. Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that it would be unfair for e-commerce companies to try and get benefits of the ONDC network as a seller without offering their buyers the option of coming on the network. Goyal’s observation is particularly significant given that PhonePe recently launched its Pincode app built on top of ONDC, and there are reports of others planning to do the same.

Goyal emphasised that ONDC would promote local languages, products, and cultural heritage, and create opportunities for small businesses. Through ONDC, the Indian government aims to promote open networks for all aspects of trade in goods and services over digital or electronic networks. ONDC seeks to provide multiple options to small businesses to be discoverable online and do business. It also hopes to increase freedom of choice for consumers and enable matching demand with the nearest available supply.

Goyal said that ONDC would operate on an equitable and fair basis, offering opportunities to all stakeholders, with no priority or preferred sellers. Consumers will be free to choose their buyers on ONDC without the platform pushing them towards products offering a larger commission or from a preferred seller of a sister company. Through interoperable networks, an interface is being created among platforms, giving buyers on one platform for e-commerce transactions visibility to sources from any platform on ONDC. This will open up more options for the buyer, giving them the best price and quality without any algorithm dictating choices.

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