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The first meeting of Open Network Digital Commerce Advisory Council (ONDC) set up by Ministry of Commerce on Friday deliberated on several issues concerning formation of the platform and setting out basic fundamentals of this platform.

ONDC is envisioned to bring together all of India’s e-commerce marketplaces on a single network and empower India’s digital revolution. “As UPI is for the digital payment domain, and as HTTP is for data communication on the World Wide Web, the ONDC is intended to become the same for e-commerce in India," Quality Control of India said in a tweet.

The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has initiated the project on ONDC and the task has been assigned to the Quality Council of India (QCI).

Recently Infosys non-executive chairman Nandan Nilekani joined the platform. The other members of the advisory council includes RS Sharma, chief executive officer of National Health Authority; Adil Zainulbhai, chairman QCI and capacity building commission; Anjali Bansal, founder and chairperson of Avaana Capital; Arvind Gupta, co-founder and head, Digital India Foundation; Dilip Asbe, MD and CEO, National Payments Corporation India; Suresh Sethi, MD and CEO, NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Ltd; Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders; and Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India. Anil Agrawal, additional secretary at the DPIIT will be convener of the advisory council.

Calling it as a unique and innovative idea which does not exist anywhere in the world, Khandelwal said that platform like ONDC will certainly liberate the e-commerce business of the country from the vicious clutches of certain global e-trailers. “Being an open network it will empower not only small businesses with adoption of e-commerce as an additional business stream but will also give various choices to the consumers for obtaining quality products with competitive prices. It will encourage local commerce to a larger extent," he said in a statement.

Khandelwal further said that the ONDC will provide uniform and equitable opportunities to all e-commerce entities conducting their business activities through any mode of e-commerce. “There is a need of a regulatory or monitoring mechanism to ensure that this platform should not be over powered by big companies," he added.

Khandelwal said that the ONDC will go beyond the current platform-centric digital commerce model where the buyer and seller must use the same platform to do a business transaction. “On the other hand, on ONDC platform, the portals connected with an open network, buyers and sellers can transact irrespective of the fact that they are attached to one specific e-commerce portal," he added.

The open network protocol is expected to act as a force multiplier for end beneficiaries: customers, application developers, governments, and businesses by creating an interoperable open playground to unlock value and innovation, Khandelwal said. “This will be most impactful for MSMEs and small traders looking to unlock value and scale their operations through the digital commerce space. This will be a first-of-its-kind initiative in the world to create a level playing field for digital commerce at the scale of a country like India," he added.

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