The progress that India has made in building a digital infrastructure evokes awe. The American technology industry fancies itself as the global leader in innovation, yet India has leapt far ahead. Silicon Valley’s technology investors hype complex technologies such as bitcoin and blockchain. But India, with simple and practical innovations and massive grunt work, has built a digital infrastructure that will soon process billions more transactions than these do.
Though few people in the West know of Aadhaar, it has been the largest and most successful information technology project in the world. There was widespread skepticism about whether a billion people could be provided with a verifiable digital identity, yet it has occurred, in a short span of six years. Hundreds of millions of people can now participate as equals in the global economy.
Where bitcoin requires massive, wasteful computing resources and constant improvement to do what is called mining, transactions’ mathematical verification, the simple design of India’s digital payments infrastructure, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), allows banks to transfer money directly to each other based on an Aadhaar number or, a mobile-phone number plus pin. There is almost no overhead in UPI and transactions happen within seconds rather than the 10 minutes that bitcoin takes. With UPI, India doesn’t need credit cards or middlemen, it can build the next generation of finance.
The instant and non-repudiable proof of identity that Aadhaar’s know-your-customer technology -e-KYC -provides, gives India a big advantage. Most people in the US have drivers’ licenses and social security numbers which are not verifiable with biometrics or mobile numbers, so complex verification technologies need to be built into every financial system. Indian entrepreneurs building applications don’t need to worry about all this.
Also going beyond money, India Stack provides a digital locker through which provides storing and sharing personal data such as addresses, medical records, and employment records. With this, the government is providing a public service that is the digital equivalent of roads and electricity. We don’t know of any other country that has anything comparable.
So, Yes India is Ahead!!!