The Art of Bitfulness

Nandan Nilekani

Fast-Tracking Inclusion: Digital Infrastructure for Identity, Payments, and Data Empowerment

In 2011, just over 3 out of 10 Indians had bank accounts. This number was, according to the Bank of International Settlements’ analysis, in line with that of other countries with a similar GDP per capita.  By 2018, more than 8 out of 10 Indians had bank accounts and around 330 million people had been brought into the formal financial system. This rate of progress in GDP would normally take about half a century, as per the BIS; India managed it in just under 8 years. In the talk embedded below, I explain what made this progress possible. The last two decades have brought to life the power of technology platforms in reshaping economies. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Uber have changed the game for e-commerce, information access, communication, and private transport. But what many miss is that most of these innovative platforms rely on shared digital infrastructure often invisible to the end consumer.  For example, look at the TCP/IP protocol that powers the Internet, the GPS signals that allow navigation, or the SMTP protocol that makes all email interoperable. While visionary entrepreneurs are adored and admonished prominently, it is this class of silent public technology investment that made their innovations possible. This article was originally published in Product Nation by iSpirt.
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