Aparajita, Partner at Ikigai Law and Amol Kulkarni, Research Director at CUTS published an op-ed in Mint titled "Our open network for digital commerce must win trust". Key points they make:

ONDC has loose ends. It may work in theory but might have potential risks, unintended consequences and challenges to scale. An entirely decentralised network looks unfeasible because managing the entire order lifecycle requires scale and smaller network participants will struggle.

Its open nature increases the possibility of suspicious elements joining the network, ostensibly as service providers, sellers or consumers. The decentralized nature of the network may make it hard to keep them out. It may make fixing accountability difficult and the redressal of grievances cumbersome, which could reduce overall trust within the network.

The structure of the ONDC creates a conflict of interest and lack of checks and balances. Incorporated as a not-for-profit company, it is majority owned by private sector institutions, most of which are likely to act as, or have an interest in, network participants, directly or indirectly.

Significant ambiguity persists with respect to its design and functioning, it appears that in its pursuit of speed, the ONDC may end up compromising consumer and merchant interests.

In conclusion, entities in the e-commerce ecosystem should proactively engage with the ONDC to obtain more transparency and approach integration accordingly.

Excerpts from an op-ed by – Aparajita, Partner at Ikigai Law and Amol Kulkarni, Research Director at CUTS

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