The Centre will not allow e-commerce companies to build a special platform for Open Network Digital Commerce (ONDC), instead of on-boarding the main online platform connecting a network of buyers and sellers, as it would be an unfair way to try and get benefits of the network as a seller without offering their buyers the option of coming on the network, Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

“We must stop anybody who says I have built a special platform for ONDC. That’s not what we intended ONDC to be. That is an unfair way to try and get benefits of ONDC as a seller, but not offer the buyers who come on your platform to come on ONDC,” he said answering questions posed by industry representatives at an event organised by ONDC on Tuesday.

The Minister’s observation is especially important as recently PhonePe launched its Pincode app, built on top of ONDC. There are reports of some others planning the same.

“ONDC doesn’t threaten anyone, not even big e-commerce companies. It only unlocks..opens the doors of opportunity in a more inclusive manner for more people, including more small businesses, through the length and breadth of india,” he said.

‘Equitable and fair’

Goyal said that everyone, big or small, was invited to come on ONDC. “No one will be differentiated. There will be no priority or preferred sellers. It will be equitable and fair in offering opportunities to all stakeholders. It is reimagining digital commerce,” he said.

The Minister said that he was optimistic about a significant growth of ONDC in the next few months. ONDC will promote local languages, products, and cultural heritage, and create opportunities for small businesses, he added.

Through ONDC, the government aims to promote open networks for all aspects of trade in goods and services over digital or electronic networks. While on one hand it 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. 

More options for buyers

Consumers will be free to choose their buyers on ONDC without the platform pushing them towards products which may be offering a larger commission or which may be from a preferred seller of a sister company, Goyal explained. “Through interoperable networks, an interphase is being created among platforms. This will help a buyer on one platform for e-commerce transaction have visibility to sources from any platform on ONDC. This will open up more options for the buyer, giving him best price and quality, without any algorithm dictating choices,” he said.