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ONDC integrates Unicorns and startups and increases the accessibility of digital commerce

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The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), founded to democratize e-commerce and expand access to the digital market to smaller players, announced on Thursday that 125 stakeholders in the ecosystem have joined. This includes a mix of startups and some of India’s most famous unicorns.

Prominent unicorns that have signed Letters of Intent (LoI) to partner with ONDC include Zerodha, EaseMyTrip, Pristyn Care, Cars24, Physics Wallah, PolicyBazaar, OfBusiness, Winzo, Livspace and GlobalBees. The move is intended to give start-ups better access to the market and aims to provide consumers with a wider range of options and value.

«This cooperation is to ensure that startups have access to the network and subsequently to the market. The aim is to offer consumers a wider choice and better value,” said Rajesh Kumar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Internal Trade, during the launch of the ONDC Mahotsav on Thursday. 5000 startups participated in the hybrid event.

Unicorn representatives expressed optimism about partnering with ONDC to expand their reach into smaller cities that are still underserved by traditional e-commerce platforms. This collaboration is expected to open doors for local businesses in these areas and provide them with greater opportunities through partnerships with startups and unicorns.

Responding to concerns about the potential overshadowing of smaller players by larger startups, Singh noted, “We hope it will increasingly attract all types of players. The intention is noble and we will work to resolve any market concentration issues as they arise.”

Launched in 2021, ONDC has seen significant growth and has registered more than 500,000 sellers, of which more than 70% are small or medium-sized. In April 2024 alone, ONDC facilitated approximately 7.22 million transactions.

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Incorporating startups means the confluence of two major government initiatives – ONDC and the Startup India Initiative. Launched in 2016, the Startup India initiative aims to support entrepreneurs and build a robust startup ecosystem in the country. From around 300 startups in 2016, India now boasts over 130,000 DPIIT recognized startups in over 55 industries creating over 130,000 direct jobs.

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