Economic network

Google: Google is in talks to join the government’s open online retail network

New Delhi: Google is in active talks with the government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) and “exploring” ways to partner with the ambitious initiative, several people familiar with the matter have told ET.

At present, the discussions are “exploratory” and have covered different activities within Google, including search and payments, according to a person quoted above who said “there is a definite interest” in s engage with e-commerce network.

A second person familiar with the ongoing discussions said the two sides had held a few meetings with Google, seeing the ONDC as a way to discover businesses. “There are several possibilities, but it’s not finalized yet,” the person added.

The network, which aims to democratize e-commerce by bringing more kiranas and unorganized retailers online, was launched as a pilot earlier this month in Bengaluru and four other cities and is expected to be available in 100 cities across the country. by August.

Responding to ET’s questions about the development, ONDC CEO T Koshy confirmed talks with Google as well as other tech companies.

“Like all biggies, companies like Google are talking to us to see what possible ways they can be on this journey,” Koshy said.

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A Google representative said the company has been consistently invested in efforts to help India’s vast base of small and medium-sized businesses establish a digital presence and “support discovery” across its platforms and payment capabilities. with Google Pay.

“We don’t have anything else to share at this time,” the person added.

Google Pay’s two main competitors – PhonePe and

have already started to integrate their services with ONDC. The network’s pilot program was launched through a Paytm shopper app, with the Noida-based company saying it will pivot to the ONDC network to drive the next stage of e-commerce.

ET reported earlier this month that PhonePe, which is owned by Flipkart and Walmart, is in an advanced stage of integration and will join the ONDC network on both the buy-side and the sell-side. “Like the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), we want to leverage an open ecosystem like ONDC while leveraging our payment relationship with merchants as well as consumers. We are actively working with ONDC to launch the as soon as possible,” PhonePe had told ET.

For Google, the partnership with ONDC fits well with its stated program to digitize small businesses. It can also fit well with the US tech major’s broader e-commerce ambitions on a global scale and has the potential to be scaled globally like Tez – which was launched in India and then expanded under the name of Google Pay. The company already has over 10 million live merchants on Google Pay.

Cracking e-commerce

For several years, the search giant has been working to improve the user experience of online shopping by expanding the possibilities of searching for a product. At its annual I/O Software Conference earlier this month, Google showcased how it plans to let users find nearby retail products and view packaging details in just using the phone’s camera.

Partnering with ONDC, which India sees as an alternative to breaking the dominance of e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Flipkart, should give impetus to Google’s plans to become the go-to shopping destination.

Google, on the other hand, is working to digitize small and medium-sized businesses by offering perks like free websites and cloud storage. It also launched Google Pay for Business in 2019, to manage these merchants with digital payments and customer onboarding. He also launched MyShop – a feature for merchants to have a quick store builder functionality where they can add images, descriptions, prices in minutes and then share the link on Google surfaces and social media .

A Bloomberg article published on Wednesday noted how Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president responsible for most of Google’s biggest services – search, maps, advertising and more – is determined to crack e-commerce, a market that is expected to reach 2 .27 trillion in 2025 that the Alphabet Inc. division has tried and failed many times before.

The ONDC is an initiative of the Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce. Based on an open protocol-based system, ONDC will allow buyers and sellers to discover and transact with each other. Based on the concept used by Unified Payments Interface, ONDC will also offer a “decentralized” structure where buyers and sellers do not need to be on the same platform to interact.

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