Microsoft plugs into govt-backed ONDC

Tech major plans to start social e-commerce

Microsoft, among the three largest tech companies, is the first in its league to announce onboarding efforts with ONDC. (Photo source: Reuters)

ONDC (open network of digital commerce), which is developing a first-of-its-kind open network for digital commerce, on Tuesday said US tech giant Microsoft has onboarded its platform. Microsoft intends to introduce social e-commerce — group buying experience — in the Indian market, it said.

Microsoft, among the three largest tech companies, is the first in its league to announce onboarding efforts with ONDC. This year, it plans to launch a shopping app for Indian consumers along with their social circle, harnessing the ONDC network to discover the best pricing among retailers and sellers.

The Fortune 500 company’s collaboration with ONDC is crucial as it widens the models available on the network that is set to change the Indian e-commerce landscape by fostering equal opportunities for small, medium, and large buyers/ sellers, creating a level playing field for every stakeholder. By 2030, the Indian e-commerce industry is anticipated to reach $400 billion, increasing at a 19% CAGR. The industry is expected to continue to flourish in the coming years, backed by high internet penetration and easy UPI payments. ONDC aims to catalyse and accelerate this by enabling all kinds of buyers and sellers to leverage the digitisation of commerce through its network, as it is based on the concepts of decentralisation, openness, and greater user utility.

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T Koshy, managing director and CEO, ONDC, said, “ONDC network is not just a model but a flexible idea that has a lot of explored and yet to be explored potential. As Microsoft plugs into the network, it’s a step in the same direction for both of us. By utilising the strength of our open network users, Microsoft, too, can implement their creative ideas like social commerce swiftly.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft added, “The Indian e-commerce industry has tremendous growth potential in the next decade. Initiatives like ONDC can be a game changer amid this boom. Their UPI-like network for digital commerce is a win-win for both buyers and sellers as it will enable them to connect without dependency on any e-commerce solution.”

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In a recent interview to FE, Koshy had said ONDC promises to free small sellers from the burden of acquiring customers by giving them access to a large pool of buyers. These buyers would be unleashed on to the ONDC’s open-source protocol by the likes of fintechs, banks and telcos. Also, entities like banks, fintechs and telcos have digital consumers who can come together as a common pool of buyers and be exposed to thousands of sellers.He had said ONDC is running pilots in 29 cities and by the end of August, it is hoping to throw one city open with maybe 50 pin codes.

The department for promotion of industry and internal trade launched ONDC earlier this year with an aim to create an inclusive e-commerce market and enable all kinds of sellers and buyers to leverage digitisation of commerce through its network.

ONDC is currently in pilot phase in cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Bhopal and Shillong and has onboarded Paytm, Digiit, eSamudaay, Dunzo, Gofrugal technologies and Loadshare.

Grab (acquired by Reliance Retail in 2019), Shiprocket, Sonata, Snapdeal, Bizom, PhonePe are in advance stages of development with ONDC. Airtel, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, IDBI Bank, ITC Store and India Post have started integration with ONDC.

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