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New Delhi: Reliance Jio’s grocery platform JioMart is currently testing the government’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) network and may join the platform soon, a person aware of the matter said.

Seven hundred companies, including financial services giant Paytm, have already signed up on ONDC, while 300 are in various stages of integration, the person said on the condition of anonymity.

Also, companies such as ITC Ltd are building seller services for ONDC, according to the company’s website. IDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and payments firm PhonePe, are other big brands that are set to integrate with the network. The person added that 5,000 merchants are already part of ONDC.

The ONDC network aims to break hegemonies in the e-commerce industry. It does so by creating a common registry of buyers, sellers, logistics and tech service providers, among others, which all stakeholders can access. This prevents any one operator from controlling the market by limiting access to buyers by creating walled gardens.

JioMart is owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd. The company also partnered with WhatsApp and allows consumers to place orders through the messaging service. In its earnings report earlier this month, the company said orders on WhatsApp were up 37% monthly.

To be sure, this won’t be the first integration that Reliance has done with the network. In August, Reliance Retail-owned logistics platform Grab.in went live on ONDC. A spokesperson for Reliance Jio did not respond to a request for comment.

ONDC officially went live in September, with a pilot launch in Bengaluru. It has since started running alpha tests in 84 cities and is in beta in two cities—Bengaluru and Meerut. Alpha tests are being run in Noida, Faridabad, Lucknow, Bijnor, Bhopal, Chhindwara, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, and Kannur.

Logistics unicorns Dunzo, Delhivery and Shiprocket have already joined the platform. Paytm and Meesho have e-commerce integrations, with Flipkart and Amazon expected to join later.

A report by the non-profit think-tank Digital India Foundation (DIF), published in November, said ONDC may reach 250 million users by 2027.

In December, T. Koshy, managing director and chief executive of ONDC, said the company might charge a “small fee" from platforms in future. He didn’t specify when this would begin, however.

The person also said that the source code for a reference ONDC app would be put up on the Microsoft-owned code repository GitHub within a few weeks. While ONDC is not a platform like the unified payments interface (UPI) or account aggregator (AA), platforms can still build ONDC-compliant apps.

The reference app to be put up on GitHub will allow any developer to gain access to the basic source code required to build such an app.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Prasid Banerjee
An engineering dropout, Prasid Banerjee has reported on technology in India for various publications. He reports on technology through text and audio, focusing on its core aspects, like consumer impact, policy and the future.
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