Strong political will to push digital transactions: Nandan Nilekani

Aadhaar, being a digital identity, allows the government to verify authenticated users online.

Bengaluru: Mr Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of UIDAI and co-founder of Infosys, on Wednesday said he is not an economic expert to comment on whether demonetisation had resulted in RBI forecasting a drop in growth rate for 2017 fiscal, but stated that the bulk of merchant payments should turn cashless, which could result in getting the country’s economy on the right track.

Speaking at the Global Technology Summit, he termed demonetisation a “complex task” and that the country is crying for a shift towards a modern digital financial economy.

Mr Nilekani, who recently joined a special 13-member committee set up by the government to foster digital payments systems, said, “There is a strong political will to accelerate digital cashless transactions. We have created a policy window to bring the government, regulators, markets, technology and innovation together to create a modern digital financial economy.”

He said the infrastructure built by the government in the past seven years has now become a tool to create digital financial economy quickly. “We need to focus on putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, such as Aadhaar number, Unique Payment Interface (UPI), micro-ATMs and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to transact digitally,” he said.

Aadhaar, being a digital identity, allows the government to verify authenticated users online. It has helped the government verify nearly 14 million of authentications a day.  “Apart from verifying authentications, Aadhaar also allows us to know the name and address of the user, which will act as eKYC (know your customer). It is sufficient for opening bank accounts, buying mutual funds, insurance policies and even SIM cards,” he said.

He said Reliance Jio adopted eKYC to distribute SIM cards and called it the “intersection of technology and regulation”. Airtel Payments Bank too is using eKYC to help customers set up bank accounts within minutes.

“We are going see the acceleration in deployment of financial technology. We have built everything and now it’s time for us to deploy it rapidly,” said Mr Nilekani.