ONDC starts where the internet's limitation shows up: FIDE's Sujith Nair

The idea of interoperability will go beyond commerce, transcending to healthcare, energy and manufacturing, said the CEO of the Foundation for Interoperability in Digital Economy.

ONDC starts where the internet's limitation shows up: FIDE's Sujith Nair

Saturday September 23, 2023,

2 min Read

The need for the government’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) arises at points where the internet's limitation shows up, said Sujith Nair, Co-founder and CEO of Foundation for Interoperability in Digital Economy (FIDE). He was joined by Susmit Patodia Capital Director, Antler and Tanvi Ratna Founder & CEO, Policy 4.o in a detailed conversation over India's open network revolution. The discussion was moderated by Vivek Lohcheb, VP, Offline Business Development, PhonePe.

FIDE is a not-for-profit organisation that developed the open-source initiative called Beckn protocol—a common coding language with which digital public infrastructure like UPI and ONDC has been made. 

"The question is, if we have the internet, why do you need digital infrastructure for commerce?" asked Nair, before going on to explain the difference.

While ONDC is similar to the internet, the difference is internet cannot differentiate between an ecommerce website and a banking website, pointed out Nair, during a panel discussion at TechSparks 2023.

ONDC begins where the internet stops, he added.

Despite 400-500 million UPI users, only 50 million transact online regularly, and this gap needs to be filled, said the CEO of FIDE.

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Currently, players from different sectors such as retail, grocery, hyperlocal, food delivery, and mobility are building various applications on ONDC. However, Nair observed that the scope of Beckn protocol is far bigger.

“The Beckn protocol idea is not just about commerce; you are talking about healthcare, energy as a resource like EV charging and energy warehousing, and even manufacturing,” he said.

Susmit Patodia, Capital Director at VC firm Antler and another panellist in the discussion, said he expects to see a unicorn or a soonicorn startup building on ONDC by the end of 2024. This would be a catalyst in unlocking the full potential of ONDC, he said.

In August, Antler rolled out a platform to help founders building on ONDC gain access to capital, expertise and network. The initiative is in collaboration with Nandan Nilekani (Chairman of Infosys and Ekstep), FIDE (Beckn Protocol), and ONDC.

Tanvi Ratna Founder and CEO, Policy 4.0, a think-tank focused on emerging technology, said there are similarities between the open networks that Beckn protocol is trying to build and Web3 because of their common idea around decentralisation. 

“What Beckn has done is focus on the transaction piece or the commerce piece; we want decentralisation but we want it on commerce,” she said.


Edited by Swetha Kannan