This is an important week for India's IT industry, given that two key events are taking place in New Delhi as we speak--the 21st Convergence India 2013 and the 7th Indian Digital Summit organized by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Both events highlight one important fact: that India needs to bridge the digital divide by taking technology, especially broadband, to the village level.
At the Indian Digital Summit, specifically, Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), mentioned it is aiming to sign up 600 million mobile-banking users to the Aadhaar payment service by 2014. As of today, the UIDAI has registered 250 million people.
This means Nilekani expects the 600 million people registered under Aadhaar to enjoy the benefits of mobile banking. "This will have a ripple effect on e-commerce and various other mobile transactions," he said.
The unique identity number will be pivotal for retailers to know their online customers given that Internet penetration in the country is on a steady rise. Aadhaar can eliminate fraudulent activities and help the end user, he added.
"Aadhaar can be used to validate the identity of an individual, be it for the cash-on-delivery model for e-commerce or even for getting a telephone connection," Nilekani said.
He also mentioned India is targeting to set up 1 million micro-ATMs by 2014 to the benefit of hundreds of thousands of people living in smaller towns and villages.
Talking about the future of Aadhaar, Nilekani said it is a platform that will grow and will help the ecosystem to grow along with it. "It is an open platform for app developers and we sincerely hope that applications are built around it," he added.
Speaking on privacy, the chairman said UIDAI is working with the industry within the regulatory frameworks to keep privacy intact.
During the Summit, Indian innovator, entrepreneur and policy maker Sam Pitroda reiterated the need for various platforms such as UIDAI for the development of the Indian economy.
"While technology is advancing, information is not spreading at a proportionate rate. We need to have platforms that will help disseminate information, though the government is spending over INR 100 billion (US$1.83 billion) on public information systems," Pitroda said.