Program in a Nutshell

Created in 1983

20 activities carried out​


  • Capacity Building and Development
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation
  • Research, Reports and Evaluations
  • Policy Dialogue


  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Ford Foundation
  • Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
  • UK Federal Trade Commission
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • US-India Business Council
  • World Bank

Geographical scope​

Regional Economic Status

Partner : CUTS

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Since its establishment in 1984, Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International) has been a leading consumer voice with regards to centring consumer sovereignty, rights and welfare. As digitalisation accelerated across sectors, CUTS has undertaken many research, advocacy, networking and capacity building initiatives, within the realm of digital economy. To enable consumers, particularly the poor and the marginalised social groups, to achieve their right to basic needs, sustainable development, and good governance through strong consumer movement.

Being a global independent non-profit, non-governmental organisation working on public interest issues, CUTS addresses four main thematic areas: Competitiveness; Investment; Economic Regulation; and Consumer Protection. Within these focus areas, CUTS has undertaken multiple initiatives promoting competition, investment, regulation, trade and governance reforms across sectors, through evidence-based research across undeveloped and developing countries. This is being done through a deeply rooted presence across India and at the global level including Lusaka, Nairobi, Accra, Hanoi, Geneva and Washington, D.C.

To discover more about the Inclusive Digital Economy, please visit here.

  • Capacity Building and Development

    • CUTS actively undertakes capacity building exercises for various categories of stakeholders on issues related to the digital economy in general and e-commerce in particular. Special emphasis is put on strengthening capacities and empowerment of:

      • Consumers,
      • Civil Society Organisations,
      • Small and Medium Businesses,
      • Government Officials
      • Entrepreneurs, Particularly Focussing on Women
  • Policy Advice, Support and Formulation

    • CUTS provides policy makers with strategic advice based on evidence to help them:

      • Better design and implement policy measures and reforms,
      • Promote and accelerate development and competitiveness in developing countries across sectors, including in the digital economy.

      CUTS actively analyses and reviews policies, laws and regulations through the lens of competition and assess their optimality. With respect to fostering inclusive digital economy, CUTS works on issues related with the following:

      • E-Commerce
      • Financial Services
      • Telecommunications
      • Urban Mobility
      • Privacy And Data Protection
      • Others

      The advice consists of advocating sustainable and inclusive strategies, as well as promoting trust, transparency and harmonisation at the global, regional, and country level on the drivers and patterns of structural change. At times, CUTS also induces policy makers to introduce new policy laws and regulations.

  • Research, Reports and Evaluations

    • CUTS conducts and publishes quantitative and qualitative research papers that inform sound digital policy, fair rules and e-commerce readiness on a regular basis.

      These publications enable relevant stakeholders based in developing countries to harness the potential of e-commerce for their sustainable development and consumer protection. These papers cover a wide range of digital-related issues such as:

      • Competition
      • Data Flows
      • Data Localization
      • Source Code
      • the WTO Joint Statement and Work Programme
      • Gender
      • RTA provisions
      • Digital payments
      • Consumer trust
      • Intermediaries, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, etc.
  • Policy Dialogue

    • CUTS organizes policy dialogues on trade and digital-related issues, towards informing policy formulation and negotiations in these areas on a regular basis.

      • Discover a selection of recent dialogues and roundtables below, in the Publication section.
      • CUTS regularly organizes and contributes to policy dialogues on trade and digital-related issues. Discover our Expert platform on the Achievements and Highlights section.
  • WTO and Electronic Commerce

    • Digital Commerce Online Course (2017-2021)

      This course provides an interdisciplinary coverage of digital commerce, from both digital and trade perspectives. It builds the knowledge and capacity of participants to engage in digital commerce-related negotiations and discussions on the multilateral and bilateral levels. It is aimed at diplomats, in particular those based in Geneva, staff of trade-related international organisations, and capital-based officials, from developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs). More at

    • TAF2Plus WTO Umbrella Grant

      The WTO Umbrella Grant Project on New Issues was devoted to strengthening the capacity of developing and least developed country (LDC) delegations in Geneva and in capitals, as they determine their level of engagement, strategy, and approach to the WTO Joint Statement Initiatives (JSI) launched in December 2017. More at

  • E-Commerce and Regional Integration

    • E-Commerce and African Regional Integration

      The project aimed to ensure that African policy-makers and negotiators know suitable policy options through which African continental integration can harness the sustainable development potential of e-commerce, specifically in the context of the AfCFTA. More at

  • E-Commerce Policy

    • Fostering a Digital Footprint for Women Entrepreneurs in India

      It has often been said that the economies where women are not provided adequate and equal opportunity to realise their full potential, such economies lack innovation, economic growth, and job creation. In this light the project aims to address the challenge of rebuilding post-pandemic economies including leveraging digital tools to support women’s businesses. More here.

    • Fostering an Inclusive E-commerce Ecosystem in India

      The project explores and institutionalised ‘inclusive ecosystems’ in the digital transformation in India to ensure equitable distribution of benefits of such transformation to all relevant stakeholders. More here.

    • Status of E-consumers in India

      This research project, spread across 2 years, aims to study the status of ‘e-consumers’ while analysing the e-commerce space in India. The study in that regard builds on 5 sub-projects, each analysing a different perspective on e-commerce including consumer welfare, competition assessment, multi-homing and omni-channels, and data protection and privacy concerns, among others. More here.

    • Understanding the Impact of Data Localization on Digital Trade

      The research study measures the economic importance of digital services exports for the Indian economy and analyses the implications of foreign and domestic data flow restrictions on the economy. More here.

    • Regional Inclusive Growth in Digital Economy

      The study will identify bottlenecks and barriers to the growth of the digital economy in each project country. Throughout the study, the objectives will be synced to the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More here.

  • Telecommunications

    • TV Consumer Market Study

      Television (TV) as a mass medium of video content consumption, plays a pivotal role in empowering citizens with information, education and entertainment. In this light, it is imperative to understand how consumer perspectives on television consumption have evolved especially in the past few years and capture trends. Accordingly, CUTS is executing an on-ground research based study, with the objective of gathering consumer insights and perspectives with respect to TV channel based video consumption. More here.

    • Ethical 6G – Identifying Elements of Ethical Framework for 6G and Creating Opportunities for India and Australia

      Increasing technological penetration has also resulted in increased cybercrimes, this one-and-a-half-year project is being undertaken under the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership with the purpose to shape international discourse on cyber and critical technologies. It aims to deepen institutional linkages between Australian and Indian researchers, businesses and government on cyber and critical technology issues. It will further support India and potentially other countries in the Indo-Pacific to improve their cyber resilience and foster best practices in critical technology development. More here.

    • Consumer Broadband Labels: For Greater Transparency & Informed Consumers

      The project was based on the objective of designing a nutrition label for broadband services in India. Such a label will enable complete information disclosure by the Broadband providers on Quality of Service (QoS), in a standard format to consumers, which may result in safeguarding consumers from misleading advertisements, unfair contractual terms, practice of non-disclosures and most importantly, help them choose between services. More here.

    • Coding and Enforcing Mobile Internet : Quality of Standards in India

      The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is implementing a project entitled 2G/3G Internet Measurements in India. The project focuses on collecting measurements from several rural and urban areas on the quality of service consumers receive from various 2G/3G service providers in India. As part of the on-going initiative, CUTS International has partnered with IIT to disseminate the findings of the project and provide a platform for discussions to pave a sustainable way forward. More here.

    • Documenting Use Cases & Impact of OTT Services A Case Study of Rajasthan

      The project aimed to gauge the use cases and impact of OTT Services in different geographic settings (Urban, Semi-Urban, And Rural) of consumers in Rajasthan. More here.

  • Digital Financial Services

    • Implementation of RBI’s Tokenisation Directive in Consumer Interest (CoFT Project)

      CUTS International conducted a two-month project with the objectives of assessing the readiness of the digital payments ecosystem as well as bringing forth a consumer perspective on the likely adverse consequences of non-implementation of CoFT by the deadline. More here.

    • Competition and Regulatory Assessment in Digital Payments Infrastructure Sector

      CUTS implemented a study on ‘Competition Assessment in the Digital Payments Infrastructure Sector’. The study intends to understand and analyse the competition and regulation of infrastructure/ technology providers in the digital payments space. More here.

    • Digital payment with cellphone and women with cash

      Developing Regulatory Interventions to Address Regulatory and Competition Bottlenecks in Growth of Payments Banks

      CUTS undertook an evidence based research project for a period of six months (December 2015-May 2016) to identify key competition and regulatory bottlenecks for growth of payments banks in India. It will be involved in designing policy interventions and engaging with regulatory agencies to reduce avoidable regulatory burden and facilitate growth of payments banks in India. More here.

  • Urban Mobility

    • Regulatory Impact Assessment of Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2017

      The project envisaged assessment of costs and benefits of different regulatory options and selection of such options which has the potential to result in maximum net benefit to the economy. The costs and benefits are assessed through structured consultation with stakeholders involved. More here.

    • Competition Assessment of the Ride Sharing Industry

      CUTS International undertook an analysis of relevant market and competition assessment of the ride-sharing industry. Sharing economy has evolved rapidly in the last few years. It enables usage of underutilised resources through monetary payment. More here.

    • Developing Optimal Regulatory Framework for Taxi Aggregators in India

      The project aimed to take up research and advocacy based on secondary literature and stakeholder interactions, to inform policymakers of optimal regulatory solutions. More here.

  • Privacy and Data Protection

    • Research-based Advocacy on Unintended Lacunae of including aspects of NPD in PDPB

      CUTS is undertaking this research-based advocacy and outreach initiative for key policy-makers/influencers (among other relevant stakeholders) to bring forth a multi-stakeholder perspective on the concerns arising due to the inclusion of NPD to ensure a whole-of-governments approach to data governance. More here.

    • Highlighting Inclusive and Practical Mechanisms to Protect Children’s Data

      CUTS undertook this study with the objectives mentioned below. Examine the need for having different age thresholds for the use of data-driven services; assess if there is a need for a blanket requirement of guardians or parents’ consent for children’s usage to digital services; assess emerging global technologies for enabling least intrusive means of age verification; and assess the adverse impact of blanket restrictions on tracking and behaviour monitoring of children. More here.

    • Examining the Rationale, Assumptions and Approaches to Non-Personal Data Sharing

      CUTS undertook a study with the objective of assessing and questioning the rationale and assumption of the report of Kris Gopalakrishnan Committee on NPD sharing framework, along with analysing its recommendation and approach and presenting a multi-stakeholder perspective in the Indian context. More here.

    • Understanding Consumers’ Perspective on Encryption

      CUTS conducted a project on understanding consumers’ perspectives on secured communication services through on ground consumer interactions and relevant secondary research. More here.

    • Consumer Impact Assessment on Cross-Border Data Flow

      CUTS conducted an evidence-based Regulatory Impact Assessment, i.e. a Cost-Benefit Analysis, the primary objective of which is to ‘map the interests of consumers with respect to personal data localisation, and suggest the most optimal regulatory framework required to be put in place to ensure consumer welfare’. More here.

    • Data Privacy and Consumer Welfare in India Consumer Perception Analysis

      The study was envisaged to engage with consumer groups/consumers at a pan India level (i.e. urban, peri-urban and rural areas) regarding data and privacy protection on both online as well as offline platforms. More here.

  • Others

    • Ease of Doing Digital Business in India

      CUTS study intends to examine the factors that facilitate the ease or unease of doing digital business in India in existing and proposed legislations and their impact on them, including the indicators of economic growth such as innovation, investment. More here.

    • Manthan Series to Foster Digital Economy in India

      CUTS organises quarterly discussions for cross-learning and sensitisation of policy makers and other stakeholders to facilitate in designing optimal regulation and policies for the digital economy. More here.

    • Do Users in India, Kenya and Ghana React Differently to Problematic Content?

      CUTS is undertaking this one-year study, to analyse and compare how platform users in India, Kenya and Ghana engage with incorrect, sensational, provocative, divisive, hateful, and misleading information (problematic content), to better understand factors influencing such engagement. More here.

Impact Stories
  • Trainings on Digital Commerce built capacities of over 130 practitioners, from 72 countries

    • Since 2017, our training course on Digital Commerce has been pursuing a very concrete goal: to assist trade professionals to better understand what digitalisation and the internet mean for trade negotiators, and help them ensure their countries reap the benefits of the digital economy. Our trainings have equipped them with up-to-date, neutral and objective knowledge, in a user-friendly and informative format.

  • Ad-Hoc Support on Electronic Commerce Joint Statement for Developing WTO Members

    • As WTO JSI talks on Electronic Commerce gained momentum in 2021, our WTO Umbrella Grant’s ad-hoc support facility on the subject attracted trade negotiators’ interest beyond its initially intended audience. Indeed, beyond delegates from the 11 targeted beneficiary countries, other developing country negotiators sought to benefit from our support.

  • Appreciation

    • Ever since its inception, CUTS has been working on a range of subjects that include Consumer Protection, Competition, International Trade, Investment, and Economic Regulation. Over the past few years, its efforts have been duly recognised and has successfully generated widespread laudation from people, civil society organisations, regulatory bodies and policy makers across the globe. For Letters of Appreciation Click Here.

ParliamentariansPolicy makersPoliticiansProsecutorsLegal professionalsNon-governmental organizationsBusiness AssociationsCorporationsMSMEsAcademiaCivil societyResearchersTeachersExpertsDecision makersMiddle Managers
  • National agencies or bodies

  • Regional organizations

  • Regional economic commissions

  • Regional development banks

  • International organizations

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

  • Professional associations

  • Academia

  • Civil society

  • Corporations

  • SMEs

  • MSMEs