Vishakhapatnam, also known as Vizag, a port city in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is emerging as a key blockchain development hub. The government of Andhra Pradesh is making important moves with the “FinTech Valley Vizag” project they had launched in 2016.
The tech-savvy chief minister of the state, Mr. N Chandrababu Naidu have on multiple occasions expressed his resolve to transform Vizag, a coastal city, smaller compared to the giant Indian metropolis, into a hub for FinTech, especially blockchain. Mr. Naidu was earlier credited with transforming another Indian city, Hyderabad, in the-then undivided state of Andhra Pradesh, into a tech hub.
FinTech Valley Vizag will have a rich ecosystem focusing on education, innovation, and research on relevant technologies. There is a plan to build the largest repository of blockchain use cases in areas as diverse as transport, finance, and digital security. There is already a partnership with Covalent Fund to create Velugu Core, a blockchain stack focused on India and use cases relevant to India. This will make government data freely available digitally via application programming interfaces (APIs).
Earlier, memoranda of understanding (MoU) were signed with financial technology (FinTech) giants Visa and Thomson Reuters. There is also a partnership with KPMG to launch a repository for use cases pertaining to financial services vertical, for use in creating blockchain-based solution for banking, financial services and insurance industries.
The FinTech Valley Vizag project also includes creation of business accelerators, innovation labs, and specialized centers of excellence (CoEs). By the end of 2017, FinTech Valley Vizag had received US $ 900 million in investments, and 5,500 jobs were created. The objective is to create 500,000 jobs by 2020.
The Government of India (GoI), as reported earlier, is bullish on blockchain. Recently, the honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, known for his keen interest in technology, has clearly laid out his belief that the transparency offered by blockchain will improve lives of the Indian citizens, and bring great advantages to the country. A decentralized system, blockchain is a distributed database where every computer, also called ‘nodes’, maintain a shared and mathematically proven repository of information. The system is permanent, since there is no central server, which, if destroyed, will put the system out of commission. Updates needn’t be routed through any central authority, all nodes have equal authority, eliminating middlemen by design. The consensus mechanism of blockchain ensures that only the transactions approved by a majority of stakeholders, that too after solving complex cryptographic puzzles, can get recorded into blockchain. No earlier record can be deleted or modified. This makes the system tamper-proof. Smart contracts, i.e. pieces of code that fulfill legal functions such as allowing a stakeholder to assume control of an entity, govern the relationship on blockchain between stakeholders. This automatically generates trust, and there isn’t a need to explicitly trust on an individual. GoI has embarked on a high-profile anti-corruption drive since the last three and half years, and believes blockchain will help. National Institute for Transforming India, or NITI Aayog, a premier GoI think tank, is already building IndiaChain, the largest blockchain network in India. They are concentrating on managing property records, assisting farmers by tracking soil health cards, managing evidences and records pertaining to legal cases, stopping forgery in education certificates, e-signatures and multi-factor authentication.
Many states in India are also showing increased interest in blockchain, for e.g. in Andhra Pradesh, for Amravati city, land records have been uploaded into a blockchain-powered secured system, built by Zebi. The state government of the southern Indian state Karnataka has conducted hackathon to explore blockchain use cases for improved service delivery to the citizens. Also, the state government of the western Indian state of Maharashtra have started to explore blockchain as well, for land records management, revenue records management, legal records and evidences management, management of student scholarships and farm loan waiver management. Union Finance Minister of India, Mr. Arun Jaitley, even while clearly discouraging cryptocurrencies, has extended his support to exploring blockchain, as part of his 2018 union budget address to the national parliament. With senior political executives supporting adoption of blockchain, the technology could have a bright future in India.