(MENAFN- Live Mint) "State-run Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is attempting to create a network of last-mile service providers to make travel seamless for commuters moving within cities or even between multiple cities. A single window would integrate e-rickshaws, autorickshaws, buses, app-based taxis as well as regular taxis, two officials familiar with the development said.“We are working on providing last-mile connectivity for commuters by integrating all service providers on a single network and that, too, at a very competitive price,” said one of the two officials.“This would alleviate travel concerns, as one would not need to search for different transport options upon reaching a particular destination.”The services would begin with tier-I cities and subsequently expand to other parts of the country, the second official said is the first part of a two-stage plan. The non-profit organization, set up by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, plans to start with local transport services first and later offer bookings for hotels, flights and train travel as well, the official quoted earlier said sent to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and ONDC remained unanswered till the press time is neither an application nor a software; it is a network for digital commerce with a mandate to bring all channel partners onto a single network for commuters to access and use the partners' services. As of now, it is present in about 600 cities and has 80 service providers registered with it. The travel service, likewise, would look to integrate multiple service providers such as app-based taxi providers and others, an individual residing in, say, New Delhi, and scheduled to take a flight to Mumbai has to seek out either an app-based taxi or other locally available public transport to reach the airport, and do the same upon arriving at the destination. This is a time-consuming process and can be erratic to the second official cited above, ONDC users will have the option to pick any type of public transport, right from their doorstep to the airport or railway station and then for subsequent journeys as well.“One would only need to provide a travel plan, and the rest will be handled by the facility providers. The traveller will make a single payment for all services through the platform,” the official said. However, the official clarified that ONDC would not develop any app; it would have to be developed by registered private entities the plan sounds feasible and the travel industry is optimistic, there could be roadblocks.“In terms of cabs and trains, it may be easier to put them on a marketplace, because there are not that many suppliers, but it would be complicated to do this in the case of flight products,” Manish Amin, chief technical officer and co-founder of Yatra Online said.“For us, it should not be an issue to integrate, but for a small travel agent to participate, there may be a need to give them a platform or API (application programming interface) to integrate themselves because of limitations.” Yatra Online has been working with ONDC for the past two years on this front Goyal, chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce's expert committee on aviation and tourism and STIC Travel Group of Companies, said the move to incorporate ONDC into last-mile connectivity would be a sensible decision, particularly if local cab operators and mom-and-pop tour operators become part of the system.“If small and medium businesses do not benefit from this, then it will not make any sense.” Goyal added that it is likely to gain critical mass and succeed only if local players embrace the technology are not so subtle.“You cannot have 100 travel agents hitting the servers of an airline every time one person puts in a demand or inquiry for travel,” a travel industry stakeholder said on condition of anonymity.“They cannot discount things in flights, for instance, where there is a base fare that is defined by the airlines themselves. It could work in cabs though since cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber, among others, could be tapped to join the network. But how will a corner shop travel agent be able to integrate an API?”But there's hope, too. For example, Namma Yatri, a seller app for autorickshaws in Bengaluru, developed by payment tech firm Juspay Technologies, is already on ONDC. It has 2.3 million registered users , and nearly 105,000 registered drivers, who have completed over 15.8 million trips earning more than ₹228 crore without any commissions. Such an app would be a prime candidate for ONDC's planned travel network.
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