Google is in talks with the Indian government to integrate its shopping services with the country’s open e-commerce network ONDC. Late last month, India soft-launched its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) in an effort to counter Amazon.com and Walmart in the fast-growing e-commerce business.

According to the government, the Indian e-commerce market would be worth more than $55 billion in gross merchandise value in 2021 and $350 billion by the end of the decade.

T. Koshy, the ONDC’s chief executive, told Reuters that Google was one of many corporations with which the organization was in talks to collaborate on the initiative.

The success of Google’s payments business is due to the government’s financial transaction project, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), according to one of the people, both of whom declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media about the topic.

Google’s current shopping company functions primarily as an online aggregator of listings and does not provide order fulfillment or shipping, as Amazon does.

A Google spokeswoman said the company was not in talks with the government.

“With Google Pay, we are committed to enabling small and medium enterprises to harness digital for deeper discovery and payments capabilities,” a spokeswoman said, referring to the company’s payment service.

The ONDC project’s partners, which include Paytm, an Indian financial business, will display listings from each other’s platforms in search results. The government’s goal is to level the playing field for every seller who wants to offer their products online by lowering the cost of doing business.

However, some industry insiders are concerned about how different sellers’ listings would be prioritized.

“The logic would be that the biggest selling/best-rated vendors will definitely get featured first, which implies it won’t be an equal playing field,” Mahesh Narayanan, a former head of Google’s mobile ad business in India, said.

By August, the ONDC program hopes to have 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants selling online in at least 100 cities and towns.

Caesar Sengupta, the CEO of financial technology firm Arbo Works and a key figure in the launch of Google Pay in India, believes ONDC has a lot of potentials.

“One thing ONDC will definitely require is a consumer player to drive mass adoption,” he said. “You may recall that before Google Pay, UPI had only 17 million monthly transactions, and the graph after that is a hockey stick.”


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