After helping with the Aadhaar, world’s largest biometric ID system project, Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of software powerhouse Infosys Ltd, is now helping the Narendra Modi-led government build an open technology network that will create a level playing field for small merchants in India.
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The 66-year-old will help provide small traders and consumers with a freely accessible online system where they can buy and sell everything ranging from detergent bars to airline tickets. However, the primary objective of the network would be to curtail the growing powers of Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.
The two e-commerce giants have invested a combined $24 billion in India and currently hold 80 percent of the online retail market. The dominance of these two global giants has made it difficult for small merchants to conduct business through their local kirana stores, which form the retail backbone of the country.
The government had launched the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative, a not-for-profit online network, with the aim to curb digital monopolies of these e-commerce giants and standardise the onboarding of retailers on such platforms.
Once developed, the platform will allow small merchants and retailers to plug in and gain the reach and economies of scale of e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart.
“We owe it to the millions of small sellers to show an easy way to participate in the new high-growth area of digital commerce,” Bloomberg quoted Nilekani as saying.
The pilot project is expected to be rolled out in five cities next month for select users. Bankers like ICICI Bank Ltd, Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of India have invested and own stakes in the entity, Bloomberg reported.
When approached, Amazon said they are reviewing the model to understand it better and see if the Seattle-based company can contribute in any way. Flipkart did not comment.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)
First Published: IST