Much has been written over the years about the digital transformation of governmental and health services in the UK and US however very little disruptive change has been seen. Whereas over the last 8 years India has made leaps and bounds with its governmental vision “To empower residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere” . Did you realise that over 1.1 Billion Indian residents have now been issued with an Aadhaar number (ID Number) which contains the owners demographic information and is protected by their biometric information? (and not just a single fingerprint but Ten Fingerprints, Two Iris Scans, and Facial Photograph).
This Aadhaar number was also only the first phase of their India Stack project whose mission is to create APIs that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise an unique digital Infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery. Since the Aadhaar introduction an aggressive delivery schedule has ensued and the following platforms also now exist.
- In 2011 the Aadhaar Payments Bridge & Aadhar Enabled Payments System was launched which uses Aadhaar number as a central key for electronically channelising the Government benefits and subsidies.
- In 2012 eKYC was launched to allow businesses to perform Know Your Customer verification process digitally using Biometric or Mobile OTP.
- In 2015 eSign launched as an open API to facilitate an Aadhaar holder to digitally sign a document
- In 2016 a Unified Payments Interface launched to revolutionise digital payments in India
- In 2016 DigitalLocker was launched as a secure dedicated personal electronic space for storing the documents of resident Indian citizens. The storage space of 1GB is linked to the Unique Identification Authority of India (Aadhaar number) of the user, which can be utilised for storing personal documents like University certificates, Permanent account number (PAN) cards, voter id cards, the URIs of the e-documents issued by various Government departments. Over 5 Million users already access this service.
In addition to India Stack project the government also banned (Nov 2016) the country’s largest currency bills to try to stem the flow of counterfeit money and to take aim at terrorist organisations that rely on unaccounted-for cash. It is also expected to help the government clean up a system that has relied on cash to pay bribes and to avoid taxes. This ban on large bills is very likely to hasten India’s transition away from cash as about 78 percent of all transactions in India are made by cash, compared with 20 percent to 25 percent in the United States, Britain and other countries (according to a report by Google India and the Boston Consulting Group).
The above now places India in a perfect position to embrace digisation as once you have subscribed to the above no longer does a Regulated entity, Bank, Payment or Wallet provider need you to provide your identity and Digilocker has been an accepted location of proof for even your driving license with police to negate your need to carry it.
Currently Smartphone penetration is only 28% in India and all of the current digital payment systems work on 2G to ensure that India Stack is embraced by the masses no matter what mobile handset they have. However with the emergence of companies like PayTM (Pay Through Mobile) Launched 2010 (2015 saw Investment from Alibaba and its Launch in Canada in 2017) you can see this quickly increasing to 100% especially as this is an enabler for all transactions to be made using biometrics through a mobile device and negate the need to carry cash.
It is predicted that Sweden could become the first cashless society by 2030 but could this crown be stolen by India? just think what advances could be possible when 100% of future generations are 100% digital?