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Fintech is tomorrow’s technology. We want to be part of it too: Chandrababu Naidu

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-02-2017 Vivina Vishwanathan

Mumbai: The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday signed an in-principle agreement with Visa Inc. and Thomson Reuters, which will set up a presence in the port city of Visakhapatnam that the state is positioning as a financial technology (fintech) hub. So far, the Andhra government has signed 15 memoranda of understanding for Fintech Valley Vizag including one with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

In an interview, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu spoke about his fintech vision. Edited excerpts:

Why do you think fintech is going to pick up in a big way in the coming years both in India and globally?

It is very clear that the fourth industrial revolution is going on. Fourth industrial revolution is a deadly combination of technology and Internet of Things.

In India, two major reforms have been brought in—one is GST and the other is digital economy. Digital economy is happening everywhere in the world. With technology and Internet of Things, there is a heavy focus on fintech.

It is tomorrow’s technology. Some have taken the lead—such as London and Singapore. We want to be part of it too. India is a big nation and there are a lot of opportunities. Fintech is a reality today.

We are going in the direction of creating an ecosystem. Through education, we have to prepare professionals. We also have to build best practices in and around fintech. We are working in that area. In financial transactions, there will be evolutionary changes. Earlier, physical currency used to dominate.

Now, mobile currency or digital currency is dominating. For digital currency, fintech is very crucial. I want to focus on futuristic technology. Earlier, I concentrated and focused on information technology and knowledge economy, making Hyderabad one of the best destinations.

Today, I am focusing on information technology futuristically. In government, I am doing everything by using Internet of Things. Next, we are focusing on fintech, cybersecurity, data analytics and cloud management.

The foundation of fintech is bandwidth. You spoke about how it is not well connected across the country and adopting fibre. What is your vision?

In phase one, if we talk about information technology or fintech, ultimately, you have to support it with bandwidth and hardware. Only then will it become reality. Even in my earlier tenure, I was instrumental for deregulation of telecommunication sector.

With that one decision, today you are talking 2G and 3G. Otherwise, BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) and VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd) story would have been repeated. Today, we have to provide every family with bandwidth. In a knowledge economy, we are all talking about digital economy or digital India.

At the same time, if you won’t provide connectivity, how can he (public) have access? I have thought of two steps. One, I want to give 15-20 mbps to every home, colleges and business establishments based on demand. Even tomorrow, this is the minimum bandwidth we want to provide. After that, on the basis of demand, tomorrow if you want to do a business at home, you can have better bandwidth. We want to reach (bandwidth to) every home. This would have cost us Rs5,000 crore. We can’t spend that much of money immediately. So I have taken the alternative route to use fibre through electrical poles. It is costing me only one seventh of the total cost (Rs5,000 crore).

I am completing that project today. After that, I will do underground cable. I will keep both the options. Once I provide bandwidth, I will then look at innovative ideas. For instance, every office will have biometrics—for attendance, scholarships, pensions and public distribution system. Then, there won’t be any fraud. I am using drones, CCTV cameras, surveillance and all sensors today. Tomorrow, I will go for robotics and machine learning. Because of all this, we are doing extremely well in terms of growth. This half year, our growth rate was at 12.23%.

What is the budget that you have for it and how expensive will the project turn out to be?

If you spend money, there is an immediate gain. Whenever you spend money, you can control pilferage. When you use information technology, automatically there is an improvement in efficiency. Efficiency is more than what you are spending—almost 5 to 10 times. In information technology, money is not the issue. Willingness to implement and execute is the issue. Once you adopt the technology, you can control total pilferage. You can control corruption in so many ways.

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