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Business News/ Companies / People/  Nearly 150,000 merchants are on ONDC today: CEO
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Nearly 150,000 merchants are on ONDC today: CEO

CEO T. Koshy said a large growth driver for ONDC has been mobility services

T. Koshy, chief executive of ONDC. (Mint)Premium
T. Koshy, chief executive of ONDC. (Mint)

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) now has nearly 150,000 merchants on its platform, the head of the government-backed non-profit e-commerce protocol said, underlining its widespread adoption across the country.

“In January, we had around 800 merchants on the network doing 50 transactions a day, most of which were for groceries and food. Today, we have nearly 150,000 merchants, which includes 90,000 taxi and auto drivers," T. Koshy, chief executive of the network, said in an interview. In the past six months, deliveries have been made to over 620 towns, he said.

“At least 100 orders were made twice a week in at least 25 cities over the past two months," Koshy added.

The framework, which can be adopted by any e-commerce platform, merchant, logistics company or buyer, began its pilot project on 29 April last year, and the beta phase began on 30 September. The network is backed by the Centre’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Koshy said a large growth driver for ONDC has been mobility services, the majority of which is autorickshaw bookings in Bengaluru. Pilot tests in “three to four other cities" are also underway, the executive said.

Despite its growing presence, ONDC will not compete with any e-commerce or hyperlocal service platform, such as Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy or Zomato. This is because ONDC is not a private platform, but is instead a network that enables all platforms and service providers to inter-operate.

Amazon on 24 February said it will join the protocol. As part of its initial rollout, Amazon is providing its own logistics (pickup and delivery) services on the ONDC framework, as well as its ‘Smart Commerce’ services that offer software services to small companies to build and scale e-commerce operations.

Homegrown fintech and e-commerce platforms Paytm and PhonePe have also joined the protocol, with the latter launching a dedicated app, Pincode, for ONDC-based services on 4 April.

Big Tech has stepped in as well. Microsoft announced on 9 August last year that it will be building a shopping app on the protocol, while on 28 June this year, Google announced an accelerator programme to boost adoption of ONDC among startups with ready-to-deploy software.

On Wednesday, Singapore-headquartered venture capital firm Antler launched a platform for founders to adopt ONDC as well.

“The protocol will now grow in an organic way—more people are aware of ONDC as a protocol, and this ensures that adoption will grow by itself. Its availability stores on the likes of Paytm also ensures that the service is available practically in every market across India. This has also helped us move to markets beyond urban cities," Koshy said.

This, Koshy said, is likely to help ONDC see an increase in activity on its protocol. By the end of 2023, he added, the network aims to clock 100,000 transactions in the mobility category, and another 100,000 on grocery and food.

“For the mobility segment, we are already almost close to our target, while for groceries, we are presently at a peak of 35,000 to 40,000 transactions per day, while the average daily transactions are at 15,000 to 18,000 per day," he said.

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Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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Published: 13 Aug 2023, 10:35 PM IST
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