PhonePe, a fintech giant owned by Walmart, has entered the e-commerce market with the introduction of the hyperlocal app Pincode, a new brand that operates as a buyer-side application on the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). This is the first time in PhonePe’s seven-year history that it has created a brand beyond its primary fintech solution, demonstrating the future potential of e-commerce in India.
Observers in the industry believe that the emergence of firms such as PhonePe, a leader in the UPI market with more than 450 million registered users, can address some of the obstacles of ONDC, such as gaining consumer trust and adoption, etc. Additionally, such sizable consumer applications have the potential to restore the faith of early small-scale retailers on the network who have become discouraged by the lack of order volume, thereby increasing their participation on the platform.
“It is very important that we create an architecture that allows small retailers to also participate in e-commerce and that’s what ONDC will allow. I believe, in some sense, the biggest pay-off will be in hyperlocal commerce, because now every small guy next door can participate in e-commerce,” said Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman of Infosys, and a member of ONDC’s advisory council, at the launch. Pincode, which is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, is a hyperlocal e-commerce programme that connects the consumers of each location to their local merchants. “ONDC is created with a vision to allow every physical retail business and service provider in the country to participate in this ongoing digital revolution, the e-commerce revolution. We feel that the way to realise this vision is to connect local neighbourhoods digitally in a way that both consumers and sellers find it attractive, convenient and affordable,” said Sameer Nigam, Co-founder and CEO of PhonePe.
Nilekani drew parallels to how Aadhaar-KYC played a crucial role in promoting user adoption in sectors such as banking and telecommunications and stated that ONDC, as a digital public infrastructure, requires strong innovators such as PhonePe to bring it to the populace.
With a dedicated app and a huge customer base on its existing business lines, PhonePe plans to reach a staggering 100,000 orders per day by the end of the year, which will set the tempo for the competition and propel the network towards its critical point.