The Indian government is planning to launch its own e-commerce platform to end the dominance of multinationals such as Amazon and the Walmart-owned Flipkart and their monopolistic tendencies.
The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) said it would promote an open platform for all aspects of the exchange of goods and services through electronic networks. It will allow buyers and sellers to connect and transact with each other online, by any application or platform compatible with ONDC.
The commerce and industry ministry will on Friday launch a pilot project in five cities – Delhi, Bangalore, Bhopal, Shillong and Coimbatore.
The government’s network had its certificate of incorporation as a private sector-led non-profit company in December last year. A number of established companies have integrated with the platform.
The ministry document said the project’s aim is to get 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants on the digital commerce platform. The plan is to cover at least 100 cities and towns by August. It would focus on apps in local languages for both buyers and sellers, with a special emphasis on small merchants and rural consumers, the document added.
Without naming any company, the document lamented that two large multinational players controlled more than half of the country’s e-commerce trade, limiting access to the market, giving preferential treatment to some sellers and squeezing supplier margins.
The government said it had already received support from retailers and venture capital firms. Lenders such as the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Bank of Baroda have already committed total investments of 2.55 billion rupees (US$33.26 million) into the digital commerce platform.
Indian retailers have been accusing both Amazon and Flipkart of favoring a few big sellers and violating foreign direct investment norms.
India’s antitrust body Competition Commission of India on Thursday raided the two top domestic sellers of Amazon, Cloudtail and Appario and some sellers on Flipkart after accusations of competition law violations, according to media reports.