News & Analysis

ONDC Would be Storing only Limited Customer Data

Chief business officer Shireesh Joshi recently said the data storage would be limited to those required to ensure network quality and compliance

The government’s ambitious project to ensure interoperability between eCommerce buyers and sellers across a common network would have clear guidelines on data storage. The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) would limit access to customer data to a point that is required to ensure network quality as well as for statutory purposes. 

This was stated by ONDC’s Chief Business Officer Shireesh Nadkarni during a Q&A with the Hindu Businessline recently. The official indicated that a system would be in place whereby all essential data would be managed by the buyer and seller applications so that these can be used in case of any disputes. 

No individual data, only total numbers

On its part, ONDC would not be storing any transaction records, which will also remain with the buyer and seller app. “We will only keep updated information regarding the overall level of the transaction so that we can provide a reliable network service,” Joshi told the publication. So, ONDC may have the total number of transactions stored but not individual ones, especially those related to who bought and who sold. 

Over the past weeks, there’s been quite a lot of discussion around how ONDC proposes to use the data that would get collected when businesses and its customers get onboarded. Typically, the large eCommerce companies store all data on their servers (at home or overseas) which is then used to make intelligent suggestions to buyers based on their past purchases. 

Digital sovereignty is at play

One of the ONDC partners that’s onboarding sellers and working towards broadening the network is Bangalore-based start-up eSamudaay. The company, which conceptualized the idea of Digital Swaraj back in August 2020, is engaged with digitizing the undigitized in the country and doing so while keeping data sovereignty as the top priority. 

The company provides a set of software tools that helps digitally enable any small enterprise across the globe to participate in the eCommerce window offered by ONDC. The company is also creating investible local digital networks that onboard smaller businesses using these tools while ensuring that data collected by these networks and businesses stay within the location. 

The way towards democratizing digital networks

To another question around how ONDC proposes to democratize the digital world, Joshi said ONDC is a network into which everyone plugs in and as a result a variety of commerce transactions can be enabled. Customers could choose methods of delivery, pick the best price across the country, or opt for hyperlocal delivery where the product reaches the same day. 

“The whole idea is to allow various models to be created, which will then satisfy many different kinds of use cases and thereby be able to drive growth,” the ONDC official said in the interview. He also underscored that the goal was to allow enterprises that aren’t present digitally to still be a part of the eCommerce universe that guarantees a wider customer footprint. 

Joshi was of the view that ONDC is not just about adding sellers to the network and getting buyers to buy off it. Soon, teh banks could be part of the eCommerce ecosystem as they get their users to the network – individual customers could be buyers while enterprise accounts could get into the seller mode.

The same holds good for telecom companies as well as social media businesses. Each of them would do things differently because of which multiple engagement models would come up and drive eCommerce penetration deeper across the country. 

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