In my view: How India Stack is revolutionising society and governance

19 / 07 / 2023

Let me start by taking you back to early 2000 when your local shopkeeper would hand you toffees in lieu of change. This practice was prevalent in almost all shops across India. Fast forward to 2020, the need for chutta paisa or petty cash has disappeared. In 2023, every Indian with a smartphone is empowered to participate in the digital economy.

Big Tech and new-age start-ups focussing on the digital economy have developed solutions that have impacted the life of Indians. NPCI’s open access interoperable platforms such as UPI and BBPS have further accelerated the penetration and growth of digital payments. Let me give you some everyday examples that highlight this change.

Micro-entrepreneurs such as egg, bread and milk vendors, who provide home deliveries, have seamlessly transitioned from cash to digital payments. This has brought them into the formal financial and banking processes, and made them eligible for loans and financial products, furthering the cause of financial inclusion in the country.

We drive to work and cross toll gates every day and using the FASTag we zip past the toll gate without having to stop. It leads to reduction of fuel cost and pollution as in the past we used to wait in long queues at the toll gate to pay cash. It has immensely improved the customer experience and collection efficiency.

Another example of societal transformation to digital modes of payments is the shrinking of cash usage in temples. In fact, many of the temples across India now offer digital methods to accept donations, darshan booking, accommodation. POS machines have replaced the traditional ‘hundis’ for devotees to make donations.

Many government departments in India have taken the lead in digitising payment collections from citizens. Panvel Municipal Corporation, situated about 50 kilometers from Mumbai, is one shining example, which implemented a payment solution to digitise citizen-centric services and tax collections. Such initiatives have enhanced trust, transparency and increased the convenience for citizens.

The above illustrations from our day-to-day life show how the systemic creation of India’s robust digital infrastructure also known as India Stack has transformed the way we live and pay today. We just need our smartphone while stepping out and can make payments anywhere in India. It has become extremely convenient, easy, safe and secure.

What is India Stack?

India Stack is a set of open APIs that aims to unlock the economic primitives of identity, payments, and data at the population scale. India Stack is based on four-layered architecture as explained in the India Stack portal.

  • Presenceless Layer: This is a unique digital biometric identity with open API access, which includes the Aadhaar card and Mobile Aadhaar.
  • Cashless Layer: It refers to the electronic interoperable payment network comprising IMPS, AEPS, APB and UPI.
  • Paperless Layer- It refers to Aadhaar e-KYC, e-Sign, and the Digital Locker.
  • Consent Layer: The Consent Layer is a modern privacy data-sharing framework with an open personal data store.

What next?

The India Stack continues to foster innovation by bringing together public-private partnerships and leveraging a thriving start-up ecosystem via supportive government policies for the digital public good. The latest innovation in this direction is the ONDC — everyone’s commerce where anyone can sell and everyone can buy from each other. It will provide equal opportunities for small retailers, to follow transparent practices at low cost.

As we embark into the next phase of growth and transformation of India Stack, cutting-edge technologies such as AI-driven solutions will be instrumental in further developing our digital ecosystem. India Stack is also garnering interest across borders, and many countries are keen to implement a similar stack for their economies.

At Worldline, our solutions aim to enable India to emerge as the world’s fastest-growing digital economy, check them out!

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Ramesh Narasimhan

Chief Executive Officer - India Worldline
As a Chief Executive Officer of Worldline India, Ramesh is responsible for leading the business strategy and driving the revenue growth of the company. He has over three decades of experience in various roles in the Information Technology industry, having worked with various companies like HCL and IBM, - where he performed diverse leadership roles.