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An alternate view of the future: India in the age of technological disruption – by Nandan Nilekani

Think Next events are hosted by Microsoft Accelerator with an objective to bring together the thought leaders of the Indian Technology Innovation Ecosystem. Here are the key learnings from one of the foremost thought leaders in Indian technology industry – Nandan Nilekani:

1. Indian growth path will be different from other Asian tigers

Nilekani kept opining that India cannot copy China. When China, Korea, and Japan started out, they had no established competition, and had universal literacy. India will have to chalk out its own growth strategy driven by digitization, connectivity, cash-less/paper-less economy, and start-up innovation ecosystem.

2. Key drivers of growth for Indian economy will be domestic consumption, services-led growth, and SMBs-led growth

As opposed to the common notion of growth being led by exports, manufacturing industry, and large businesses, Mr. Nilekani highlighted that the key drivers of growth for Indian economy will be domestic consumption, services-led growth, and SMBs-led growth. Quite remarkable, and made sense given the current industry and economic trends.


3. Indian economic growth will be driven by the rising tech adoption

Rising smart-phone penetration (700 million smartphone users by 2020); internet penetration (331 million users); Aadhaar UID (1 billion users; can authenticate 100 million transactions per day, in real time); and India Stack (a complete set of APIs for developers which includes Aadhaar for authentication, e-KYC, e-sign amongst others); will propel technological disruption, digital connectivity, growth of tech start-ups, and the said vision for India.

4. Technology will allow businesses to transact easily and efficiently, and thus, contribute faster to the economy

Launch of new devices such as Samsung Galaxy Tab Iris which features an iris scanner that is Aadhaar and STQC certified, will enable cashless and paperless services for banking, passport, taxation, healthcare, etc. All these, along with Immediate Payment Service, Unified Payments Interface, micro ATMS, mPOS and financial inclusion programs by the Government (such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), will aggressively pave the way for digital payments in India. Hence, we will continue to see adoption of payment solutions such as mobile wallets, cash cards, bitcoins, platforms, and POS (Point-of-Sale) services.

Coming back to India stack, and how it will revolutionize the space of business, and fuel innovation, India stack comprises of these key layers: consent layer, cashless layer, paperless layer, and presence-less layer. As mentioned earlier, India Stack is a complete set of APIs for developers which includes Aadhaar, e-KYC, e-sign, UPI, and secure data-sharing within the stack. What this means for tech-start-ups and app developers is that they can readily create novel business apps using the infrastructure provided by the stack.

Most importantly, because of all these developments, Fintech software and services, which is currently valued at ~USD 8 billion, will be one of the fastest growing segments.


5. India will become a data-rich nation in less than 5 years – creating opportunities around big data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Mr. Nilekani showed how connectivity and digitization will lead India to shift from a data-poor nation to a data-rich nation in a mere 3-5 years span. This whole gamut of data being created from payments, digital identity, eCommerce, social media, and the paperless processes, will pave way for data-driven analysis, bringing ample opportunities in big data analytics, and artificial intelligence.


To conclude, we cannot emulate other economies. Technology and digitization will propel growth in India. Digital Bharat is the goal, which will create opportunities for all stakeholders and industries alike. The cashless and paperless economy is catapulting small and medium businesses, making it easier for them to transact. So much of online data and transactions is again creating huge demands for cyber security, storage, web performance, and faster computing. The fact of the matter is the overall tech innovation ecosystem is expanding; my question is ‘Are you a part of this?’

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