NEW DELHI: India is poised to scale its audacious plan to reimagine digital commerce through the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). It seeks to hit the reset on digital commerce, similar to the manner in which the open protocol Unified Payments Interface (UPI) completely upended the payments business by allowing for inter-operability—wherein we can pay each other in real-time using any wallet as long as each of us is on the UPI network—at an extremely low transaction cost. In short, ONDC seeks to revisit the way sellers and buyers connect with each other in digital commerce. At the moment, these cohorts engage on platforms—which are closed and dominated by few. Of the nine platforms in the world with billion-plus users, five operate from the United States and the balance from China. Unlike these private platforms, ONDC promises to be a public network that will connect the existing platforms—very similar to the way UPI connected wallets. The ONDC is not a rival platform. Instead, it is an open network protocol developed on an open digital ecosystem that will amplify the power of these otherwise fragmented platforms by linking them.
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