India to use G20 presidency to promote domestic digital services industry

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India intends to use its G20 presidency this year to promote the domestic digital services industry and is in discussions with other nations to export ideas like its payments system internationally, according to authorities.

According to the Financial Times, Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 emissary, said that India, which styles itself as a leader for the developing world, would make “special presentations” about its digital infrastructure at gatherings of finance ministers, IT ministers and other meetings this year.

Officials claim that as part of this digital diplomacy push, the Reserve Bank of India and National Payments Corporation of India, a state-backed firm that manages UPI, approached other countries about making their payment systems “interoperable” with the technology.

According to officials, the Reserve Bank of India and National Payments Corporation of India, a state-backed company that runs UPI, had approached other nations about making their payments systems “interoperable” with the technology, as a part of this digital diplomacy campaign.

These initiatives aim to ease cross-border transactions for Indians living abroad, which will strengthen the domestic economy by facilitating trade with the sizable Indian diaspora.

But according to Dilip Asbe, CEO of NPCI, India also wants to licence its technologies to underdeveloped nations in Asia and Africa for domestic usage.

The interruption brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Asbe, has emphasised the significance of “effective and self-sufficient domestic digital payment infrastructure.”

Countries like Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Nepal have already started adopting elements of India’s payments infrastructure.

An official also said that India was also approaching about other countries like, the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, which have large Indian diasporas.

India assumed G20 Presidency on 1 December 2022, from Indonesia.

An significant part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s soft-power strategy is to use the office’s prominence to advance the India Stack as New Delhi works to represent itself as a democratic, business-friendly alternative to China.

“Most innovations come from the developed part of the world — they have emerged from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, they have emerged from Tencent and Alibaba,” Kant said, arguing that India’s digital infrastructure was an inclusive template and could serve as an alternative.

“This innovation has come from an emerging market and this has ensured that there is a public platform,” he added, calling it “a way of transforming the lives of citizens”.

“It’s not about making money,” Kant said.

The India Stack is made up of layers that establish digital identification as well as levels that offer data and financial services. This includes programmes like UPI, which was introduced in 2016, as well as Aadhaar, the nation’s 13-year-old digital ID system that is connected to a person’s fingerprints.

Since the networks are “interoperable,” both for-profit businesses and government agencies can rely on them to provide everything from bank loans to online courses. India managed Covid-19 immunisations and certificates using this infrastructure.

But Satish Meena, an independent tech analyst, said the adoption of such interlinked networks was “not organic”.

“It goes from top to bottom,” he said. “The government and regulator has to push the product to the public.”

He added that India’s scale could make this an attractive option overseas. “Earlier, you had small pilots. But now these are big enough projects across the population — income, education and age group — that it can work.”

Initiatives like Aadhaar have caused controversy because, according to privacy activists, they provide companies and agencies unnecessarily broad data collection rights. Although India does not currently have a data protection law, a revised one was recently submitted that would limit how businesses can utilise personal data.

At a time when a third of the world’s economy is expected to experience a recession, Russia’s war on Ukraine is still going strong, and states are battling a global debt crisis, the leaders of the G20 countries will gather in New Delhi in September.

With inputs from agencies

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India to use G20 presidency to promote domestic digital services industry
India to use G20 presidency to promote domestic digital services industry
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