For the first time, the general and railway budgets were combined into one Union Budget this year. This year’s budget furthers PM Narendra Modi’s endeavor of digitizing the Indian economy. FM Arun Jaitley highlighted the Aadhar Pay app, the BHIM app and BharathNet program, and they all point to the same direction – India is on the verge of massive digitization.
Citizens who have linked their bank accounts to their bank accounts will soon be able to pay at several institutions without carrying their own devices as merchants will be equipped with the Aadhar Pay app and a biometric device for verification. Fast and simple.
“Our country is on a journey to becoming a digital superpower and we all have realized that this vision of Digital India cannot be complete without digitizing cash-use in our country,” says Daykin Creado, CTO of ItzCash.
He adds, “We believe additional directions towards bringing parity between physical cash and digital payment transactions need to be put in place at the earliest.”
While that does stand true, security is a bigger concern when it comes to a digitized economy. The government set up a dedicated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the financial sector to help in securing the online presence of the country and will link SEBI and RBI to boost digitization.
According to Narottam Sharma, IT Head at Samsung R&D Center India, security is the biggest challenge. “Right now, there is no cybersecurity mandate from the government yet and people themselves aren’t aware of most of the risks posed by the lack of this.”
“The push for digital payments will actually pave the way for newer technologies like bitcoin and block chain.” – Avinash Velhal, Certified Independent Director, Group CIO IMEA, VP, Head IT and Process, Atos International.
Pramod Jajoo, CTO at BigBasket agrees with Sharma, lamenting on how cybercriminals aren’t appropriately prosecuted as the theft of digital identity is not taken as seriously, something that needs to change if the economy is to be digitized.
“For an ecommerce company, digital transactions are always good as they bring transparency and hence fewer hassles,” he adds.
However, Sharma believes that the existing infrastructure is a good place to start for the country’s digitization. “Even tier-2 and tier-3 cities have a basic infrastructure available, and now the government is angling towards including the rural areas as well,” he adds.
Avinash Velhal, Certified Independent Director, Group CIO IMEA, VP, Head IT and Process at Atos International says, “The push for digital payments will actually pave the way for newer technologies like bitcoin and block chain.”
He hopes for a more robust cybersecurity so that newer technologies can be leveraged across sectors for financial transactions. Velhal was surprised as the budget completely avoided mentioning the ‘Trump Economy’ as this is the time when the government needs to tap into the local resources as the US is closing up.
Creado thinks the government’s actions to digitize starting with JAM (Jhan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile), leading to demonetization is to drive cash out of the system. “The budget, with the broad agenda of transform, energize and clean India, is a unique mélange of measures,” he adds.
“Creating a Payment Regulatory Board (PRB) within RBI will allow for more representation from payment industry experts in policymaking for digital payments while driving a level-playing field for players across the sector,” says Creado.
Are regulations, new apps and a new dedicated team enough to ensure a safe path to a digitized economy? Only time will tell.