Opinion: India is sitting on the cusp of a people-centric digital revolution

The announcement last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discontinue Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes will go down in history as a harbinger of a digital revolution in India.

With over one billion mobile phone users and having the second-largest online population in the world (after China), India already has the groundwork for an explosive growth in mobile internet, digital payments, cloud computing and the internet of things.

McKinsey estimates these technologies to deliver an annual economic impact of USD 500 billion to USD 1 trillion per year by 2025 in India.

That would represent 20 to 30 percent of India’s incremental economic growth between 2012 and 2025.

However, as most digital transformation across industries and countries continues to unfold, the people dimension of these transformations has emerged as the key.

Leadership development and external talent acquisition may require entirely different and innovative approaches in the new digital environments.

Take the case of digital payments sector in India. It is estimated to grow to USD 500 billion by 2020, up from roughly USD 50 billion last year.

Driving this growth would rest on budding talents, technologists, the academia and fin-tech experts.

Premier academic institutions such as the IITs and the NITs, besides the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore can practically make a big contribution in this respect, starting specialized branches in keeping with the industry requirements.

The next level of growth would come from future technologies which graduates from these institutes can churn out, new concepts and scalable ideas which would deliver additional value to consumers.

In this game, whoever does the best job of getting best recall, delivering best user experience, will win the race.

A lot of movement is already visible in the fintech space as wallet majors are tying up with banks and NBFCs to offer a host of financial product and services including loans and insurance.

Innovation in delivery of services born out of this alliance would rest on developing cutting edge technologies.

Expansion in the offline world would also to a great extend depend on ease of doing transactions as well as the ease of doing payments on online sites for rail or air ticket.

All of this calls for creation of a pool of talent who can help realise these objectives.

Already, the value of digital transactions post demonetization has jumped 80 per cent and the amount is expected to touch Rs 1800 crore backed by Government’s extra push to realize the mission of a cashless economy.

New age payment gateways with robust security features can only support such large volumes of transactions.

This can be delivered by a rich pool of talent. The platforms have to be upgraded security features and safety features to thwart cyber crime etc.

RBI’s recent guidelines on inter-operability between digital wallets bring with them a host of opportunities for innovations in the payment space and the coming times would stand testimony to this.

Helping the rural populace, with limited access to internet and broadband connectivity, derive the benefits of digital payment is a challenge that talent in hand can help address.

The challenge is to help farmers get access to more buyers, enabling them to run a more profitable business and paving the way to a cashless agricultural sector.

A cashless India is a dream of the Indian Government and this can be met by an employee pool which can drive innovation.


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