Technology for MSMEs: The central government’s ambitious project Open Network for Digital Commerce’s (ONDC) is all set to scale up aggressively in the next six months. The aim is to be in over 100 cities and have several thousand sellers onboarded on the platform, ONDC’s Chief Business Officer, Shireesh Joshi told Financial Express Online.
Currently, ONDC is doing the pilot in six cities, namely Delhi, Bangalore, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Lucknow and Shillong. “In the next six months, we should be a fairly large and humming network,” he added.
Currently, the project is not open to public and is in its final testing phase. “It’s the first proof that takes time but once all the testing is done and we have verified that the software is able to handle all the use cases, opening it up to everyone will be relatively straightforward. Right now, don’t think of it as a fully operational network. It is operational, but it is in the final testing phase.” said Joshi. He added that they have not zeroed in on specific cities but are talking to multiple stakeholders.
ONDC has 200 sellers active on the platform across two categories, grocery, and food and beverage industry.
Sellers can’t onboard the ONDC network directly but have to access it through seller platforms. Currently, five seller applications are active on the network such as Digiit, Gofrugal, Growth Falcons, eSamudaay and SellerApp. Also, users can buy these sellers’ products from PayTM and get it delivered. “More buyer, seller and logistics players are building their own apps to integrate with ONDC and will be live on the platform soon,” said Joshi.
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“The overall idea behind ONDC is how do we get every Indian buyer and seller on the platform. Now to achieve that overall goal we have to cover the entire length and breadth of the country from a geography perspective and also the entire gamut of products and services, so eventually, everything will be possible on ONDC,” said Joshi.
An initiative of the Government of India, ONDC is a network based on open protocol that will enable buyers and sellers on different applications to transact with each other. ONDC wants to be for retail what QR code is for payments. The rationale of the ambitious project is to democratise e-commerce and offer small businesses equal opportunities to get on online platforms and grow their business.
Joshi was speaking to Financial Express Online on the sidelines of the Grand Hackathon challenge organised in collaboration with NABARD to create digital solutions to accelerate the adoption of e-commerce in the agricultural sector. “As we started engaging with the state governments, we saw that there was a keen interest to promote local farm produce and enable their farmer producer organisations take their programmes live on ONDC,” said Joshi. In the next two to four months agriculture produce will be the third category to get active on ONDC.