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Money 20/20 Europe 2018: Nikhil Kumar Lays Out IndiaStack’s Plan to Connect A Billion People

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Nikhil Kumar is the head of the team that built the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app for the India Stack Initiative, a massive nationwide program to digitize all financial transactions. He outlined this entire plan in a particular context at Money 20/20. He focused on what he called, fiduciaries of information, which allow for huge amounts of data to be accessed and contextualized so that better prediction and better services can be afforded to citizens.

He began by talking about the different regulations around privacy that were being rolled out in light of the recent data scandals. There was even a Draft Law that was to come out next month in India. Then the conversation shifted to the Aadhar card, the world’s largest biometric ID database. It currently serves 1.21 billion people and the idea of India Stack was to use that to connect them all to services like health insurance, financial services and the like.

India had “leapfrogged data protection and privacy” through the Aadhar card while other nations were still figuring out their approach to data. The idea was to get people to benefit from their own data. This, Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture would allow the users to control data as they saw fit. The data providers would ask for consent to import that data, the user would sign off on it and it would be delivered to consumers which could range from hospitals to insurance companies. This would allow for an encrypted flow of information.

As an example, the Reserve Bank of India, together with insurance companies, mutual funds and provident funds, are creating an account aggregator. This would enable any user to fetch their own data from the insurance provider or banks etc.

Another example given was that of Health Stack, a health fiduciary which contained the health information of over 500 million people, 7% of the world’s population. Created under Ayushmann Bharat, the National Healthcare Protection Scheme, it would allow for hospitals and labs all around the country to collect data. This could be from health apps, fitbits and other smart accessories. It could then be used to provide preventive health care, better prediction of health and better drug management.

This could also be used for the proliferation skills to laborers and students in the country. In this case, the data fiduciary would be schools, universities and employers. Through this, someone who wants to apply for a job at Uber could be given a car loan and a father could be given a loan for his daughter’s wedding or his son’s education.

And of course, this would allow hundreds of millions of unbanked people to take advantage of the legal financial system. It would allow for a unified payments platform through the Aadhar card. In fact, the payments system had already been operational for 18 months.

At this point, Nikhil described the achievements of this system through a barrage of facts and figures. The Interoperable payments network included 95 banks and 700 million people in India. 200 million transactions were carried out each month, totaling at about $600 million in value. The E-digital sign layer built upon the Aadhar card which allowed for a consent architecture, mentioned before, had yielded 1.5 billion authentications per month built upon 33 million signatures. This year, the signatures would cross 300 million, beating the US and allowing for 2.4 billion digital documents to be made available for data aggregation.

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