File image of FM Nirmala Sitharaman
India provides a strong environment for the growth of digitisation of financial services with citizens swiftly adopting new technologies and the government pushing for wider usage, according to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Speaking at the Global Fintech Fest 2021, the FM said that it is fintech that is fueling this adoption by providing the technological backbone and ensuring that people are equipped with the right tech.
“Fintech startups are fine-tuning the digitisation and updating it with futuristic technologies, and therefore India is a fintech hub. Payment systems have become so mature that they adapted to the various functions that the government wanted to undertake,” she observed.
“Therefore today, you see that fintech is proving itself on the ground in India. As a result, technology is in the hands of the people of India for them to execute it,” the FM added.
The widespread acceptance of digitisation by Indians has encouraged financial inclusion and given a boost to what India Stack set out to achieve, the FM said. India Stack is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise the digital infrastructure to solve India’s problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery.
FM Sitharaman said, “Regardless of Covid-19 being a trigger, India Stack has evolved in pleasantly unexpected ways because of the developments between 2015 and today.”
The FM also spoke about the United Nations Principles for Responsible Digital Payments which were launched on August 28. The UN has laid out nine principles including fair treatment of users, ensuring protection and accessibility of funds, prioritisation of women and safeguarding of client data.
The other principles include designing for individuals, transparency in pricing, providing choices to users through interoperability, ensuring clear and quick recourse and championing value chain accountability.
“The UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments are the need of the hour. We need all governments to understand that in our desire to bring in an interoperable system, we shouldn’t be in a hurry to compromise on any one of these principles,” she said.
The FM stressed the importance of including women in the journey. “Most often there is a hesitancy by women on matters of technology. There is also an eagerness to move fast even if women are left behind, both of which are not ideal. We need all women to participate, today the economy depends on active participation by women.”
With the high digital adoption rate, the FM deemed India as a prime destination for digital payments.
“India’s fintech adoption rate is 87 percent, whereas the global average is only 64 percent. So, I would think India is just the prime destination for digital payments. No wonder, UPI today comes out as one of the very big brand images for India. We are very happy to support it, strengthen it and further it,” she added.
The Global Fintech Fest 2021 has been organised by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Payments Council of India (PCI) and Fintech Convergence Council (FCC).