Google in talks to join India’s open e-commerce network ONDC

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Alphabet Inc’s Google is in talks with the Indian government to integrate its shopping services with the country’s open e-commerce network ONDC, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Late last month India soft-launched its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) as the government tries to end the dominance of US companies and Walmart in the fast-growing e-commerce market.

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The government estimates the Indian e-commerce market was worth more than $55 billion in gross merchandise value in 2021 and will grow to $350 billion by the end of this decade.

ONDC’s chief executive, T. Koshy, told Reuters that Google was one among many companies it was in discussions over an association with the project.

Google’s talks follow the success of its payments business because of the government’s initiative for financial transactions, the Unified Payments Interface, said one of the sources, both of whom declined to be named as they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

Google’s existing shopping business works solely as an aggregator of listings online and doesn’t carry out any order fulfilment like delivery, which the likes of Amazon do.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on whether it was in talks with the government.

“We remain committed to focus on the enablement of small and medium businesses to leverage digital for deeper discovery and payments capabilities with Google Pay,” the spokesperson said, referring to its payments service.

Partners of the ONDC project, which currently includes the likes of Indian fintech firm Paytm, will show listings from each other on their platform in search results. The government’s aim is to level the playing field by reducing the cost of doing business for any seller who wants to list their products online.

The ONDC program aims to join 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants online, and cover at least 100 cities and towns by August.

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