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NEW DELHI : The government will set up a private sector-led non-profit company to fast-track the implementation of the proposed Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

After a review meeting chaired by trade minister Piyush Goyal, DPIIT in a statement said the entity is expected to provide a start-up mindset enabled by a management with a futuristic vision, deep understanding of commerce, comfort with cutting edge technology and a missionary outlook to drive change. “A non-profit company structure removes any incentive for owners to drive for profit maximization, keep focus on ethical and responsible behaviour while providing for trust, rigorous norms of governance, accountability and transparency," it added.

ONDC aims to democratise digital commerce, moving it from a platform-centric model to an open network, the way Unified Payment Interface (UPI) has democratized digital payment system. 

ONDC will enable, buyers and sellers to be digitally visible and transact through an open network, no matter what platform/application they use. ONDC aims to empower merchants and consumers by breaking silos to form a single network to drive innovation and scale, transforming all businesses from retail goods, food to mobility.

DPIIT said the role of the entity would be to develop the network by adopting and building enabling technology and encouraging wide-scale voluntary participation by eco-system players. “It would ensure network discipline by establishing a code of conduct and rules of network based on principles of consumer protection, fair trade and regulatory conformity. The entity will also provide foundational services for managing the network like digital infrastructure for the network, common registry, certification of participants and certifying agencies, grievance redressal, etc. The entity will develop and operate reference applications for buyers, sellers and gateway for market activation and priming the network along with partner entities. It will also support SMEs in their digital transformation by developing readymade tools to help existing software applications quickly adapt to the network," it said.

Goyal was also informed that Quality Control of India (QCI) has established a team of experts for execution of the project in a mission mode. “A number of small and medium enterprises have been on-boarded as volunteers to complement ONDC team. An ONDC gateway has also been established. About 20 entities covering all network components are at various stages of on-boarding. DPIIT has approved a budget of approximately 10 crores for initial work on the project," the statement said.

The review meeting was attended by DPIIT secretary Anurag Jain and members of advisory council of ONDC including R.S. Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority; Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, QCI; Dilip Asbe, MD&CEO, NPCI; Suresh Sethi, MD&CEO, NSDL e- Gov Infrastructure Ltd; Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailer Association of India; Arvind Gupta, Founder, MyGov and Anjali Bansal of Avaana Capital.

The meeting was also attended by a number of prospective promoters including senior representatives from State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, NABARD, SIDBI, National Payments Corporation of India, NSDL, CDSL, NSE and BSE.

Goyal expressed satisfaction over the progress made and sought to compress timelines for making this network a reality soon. “He directed that wide participation from ecosystem should be ensured and the institutional structure should be created in such a manner so as to ensure that the entity conducts itself in an ethical, cooperative, democratic and responsible manner. He directed that special efforts must be made to build trust in the ONDC network and elaborate mechanisms must be put in place for dispute resolution," the statement said.

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