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Digital Public Infrastructure is Taking India from Multiple Micro-Economies to One Mega Economy: Nandan Nilekani
Aug 27, 2023

Digital Public Infrastructure is Taking India from Multiple Micro-Economies to One Mega Economy: Nandan Nilekani


“Fundamentally, India is going from an offline, informal, low productivity, multiple set of micro-economies to a single online, formal, high-productivity mega economy, a trend that will continue over next 20 years. And this has been enabled by new approach to solving society’s problem, through digital public infrastructure (DPI). This essentially enhances the ability of the country to use digital technology at population scale to transform society,” said Mr Nandan Nilekani, Chairman and Co-Founder, Infosys and Founding Chairman, UIDAI (Aadhar), at the concluding day of the three-day B20 Summit 2023, organised by the B20 India Secretariat, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), at New Delhi from 25th to 27th August 2023.

Mr Nilekani said India has transformed in many ways over the last several years and digital transformation is at the heart of its economic growth. Explaining the fundamentals of DPI, he said it has number of building blocks and each block does one thing well, but all blocks talk to each other and interoperate. “When these blocks come together, they create all kinds of solutions at population scale,” said Mr Nilekani.

Giving examples, Mr Nilekani said the trio of Aadhar, KYC, Jan-Dhan Yojana have driven the massive financial inclusion story in India. He said the process began with Aadhar. “The idea was to give a digital identity to everyone and today 1.3 billion Indians have digital IDs. It provides online authentication of IDs with fingerprint, iris, OTPs, face. That system does 80 million transactions a day,” he added.

“2016 was a seminal year, when we reached the 1 billion mark in Aadhar cards. In April 2016, the new payment system UPI was launched. In 2016, JIO was launched, and in the same year, the RBI took a decision to launch an account aggregator system,” said Mr Nilekani. Speaking about UPI, which was introduced as an advanced, next-generation payment system in 2016, Mr Nilekani said it presently stands as the world’s largest payment platform, facilitating a staggering 9.96 billion transactions each month. With a user base of 350 million, the system allows for digital payments through QR codes at approximately 50 million merchants nationwide.

“We believe this DPI approach will help in climate adaptation and mitigation. From individual cash transfers to those affected by climate change to managing the electric vehicle charging station grid, DPI is an approach that has many uses for the challenges we face,” he added.

Mr Nilekani highlighted that the development of the DPI ecosystem in India was enabled by the IT intellectual capital and start-up ecosystem in India. “This combination of talent density, start-up density and the IT sector have come together to make DPI a success,” he said. Mr Nilekani also highlighted that India’s DPIs is now globally recognised and there is momentum to carry it to 50 countries in the next five years.

The session was centred around the remarkable journey of India Stack, which has laid the groundwork for the establishment of a comprehensive DPI. The session also highlighted how India’s digital platforms and the learnings from India can be scaled up for global good.


27 August 2023

New Delhi

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