India-based used cars marketplace Cars24 has signed a letter of intent (LoI) to join the Indian government’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative.

In a news release, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) announced that 12 “unicorns,” including Cars24, had signed the LoI to join the ONDC at an event held in New Delhi on May 17.

According to DPIIT, the signatories will explore use cases for their products and sites on ONDC. DPIIT joint secretary Sanjiv said: “Startups can play a pivotal role in the ONDC ecosystem by driving innovation, fostering competition and enhancing consumer choice. More than 125 startups committing to onboard to the ONDC network in today’s event reflects the excitement and momentum of the national initiative.”

The main aim of the ONDC is to promote open digital networks for the exchange of goods and services. It aims to democratize digital commerce in India by lowering barriers to entry and providing a level playing field for digital businesses of all sizes.

Additionally, it hopes to enhance the discoverability of new markets and collaboration opportunities for startups. In October, last year, NoBrokerHood — a community-management service operated by real estate marketplace NoBroker — joined the initiative.

It is envisaged by some that the ONDC will become a counterweight to the so-called “Big Tech” oligopoly — a sentiment echoed by Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani in March when its Naukri and 99Acres apps were briefly delisted from Google’s Play Store for non-compliance with billing policies.

Initiatives that Cars24 has launched in recent months — a vehicle scrappage scheme and an on-demand driver service — are aligned with the ONDC’s objective of facilitating synergies and collaborations between startups.

On the core operations front, Cars24 recently launched SUV-only hubs in two Indian cities and announced their expansion nationwide in the near future. Additionally, it has launched a dedicated section on its main site for new vehicles, hinting at a fresh venture. Founded in 2015, Cars24 was initially a b-to-b portal but later shifted to a c-to-b-to-c model and evolved into a marketplace.

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