4A/ Digital India II (part 2)

From IIW

Digital India II

Wednesday 4A

Convener: Mei Lin Fung

Notes-taker(s): Sean W. Bohan

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Digital India – Briefing at IIW May 3, 2013 @meilinfung

Aadhaar: from an identification project to flagbearer of Digital India, it’s come a long way Aadhaar is the largest biometrics programme in the world. What started out in 2008 as an effort to create a national identification programme, soon became the world’s most powerful programme for driving inclusion. Aadhaar-linked payment systems, such as the newly launched ‘AadhaarPay’ and UPI, could transform the digital payments landscape in India. If you have an Aadhaar number, all you need is your 12-digit Aadhaar number, and a biometrics reader to do financial transactions. Thanks to Aadhaar, India could, in the next five years, leapfrog into a less-cash world, that no longer depends on debit and credit cards, expensive POS machines, ATMs and other such expensive hardware infrastructure. With 1.08 billion citizens already enrolled, the ‘mandatory vs. voluntary’ debate on Aadhaar is now mostly a thing of the past. The value proposition of Aadhaar has been strong enough that people have voluntarily enrolled into Aadhaar across the length and breadth of India. In the next couple of years, Aadhaar will aim for universal coverage.

Delhi tops among states in Internet readiness: report

New Delhi: Delhi has emerged as the top ranked state in terms of overall Internet readiness including e-infrastructure and e-participation, overtaking last year’s winner Maharashtra, according to a report titled ‘Index of Internet readiness of Indian states’ by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen Holdings PLC, a global information and data measurement company unveiled on Wednesday. “Significantly, even within smaller states, the northeastern states ranked low in terms of overall Internet readiness. Therefore, much more needs to be done in the form of investment and infrastructure development in the region,” the report said.

Bhim: India’s ticket to a cashless economy

While many banks have launched UPI apps, the Bharat Interface for Money (Bhim), the common app that can be used by anyone who has a bank account with a linked mobile number, is seen as the most promising. But can Bhim really be India’s ticket to a cashless economy? Our research with users (and potential users) of Bhim across four states in India suggests that it has a lot going for it, but ensuring mass adoption will require important product tweaks and a carefully executed go-to-market strategy to make the app go viral. So what exactly needs to be done?

There are five specific asks to ensure Bhim can scale.

First, make on-boarding simpler and guided; Second, quickly launch incentive schemes.; Third, drive behaviour change by targeting the right transactions. Fourth, ensure Bhim is accepted in key payment networks, especially those backed by government entities. Fifth, nudge banks to promote Bhim uptake in its existing customer base. Bhim holds great potential to help realize India’s vision of a cashless economy at the household level, and the building blocks are clearly in place. But well begun is (only) half done. Converting the digital promise of Bhim into a digital dividend for India will require a concerted effort.

The road to digital India

With the cash situation set to return to almost the same state as it was pre-8 November, I believe that there’s a lot more that remains to be done if a less-cash economy is to become a reality. Here is what I think it will take: 1. Cash is not inconvenient: [Digital] has to be 10 times better, else people won’t switch. Clearly, a large chunk of Indians haven’t found digital payments 10 times better. 2. Switching to digital cash as a business case:  if [digital] technology solves a real problem—in this case increase the earnings substantially—I bet that the users will switch to digital. 3. The government must take the lead: government offices and agencies must adopt digital payments 4. It has to be a lot more than just convenience: The one place that has been a let down for me is the failure to communicate the benefit of a digital footprint to those to whom it would make a meaningful difference. It’s nice to tell the common man that going cashless will help strengthen the nation or cut down black money, but frankly, what’s really in it for him? 

Making 5-minute inclusive loans a reality with “India Stack”, a research report with two experiments 

This note captures the learnings from two proof of concept projects focused on disbursing small ticket size loans to financially underserved communities by using digital data trails as proxies for credit appraisal. Both these projects leveraged one or more layers of the India Stack, which, makes it easier for digital pioneers to run faster, reach more people by enabling a paperless, presence-less, cashless transaction experience. Broadly, these studies provide clear evidence that the India Stack can transform the way in which financial services such as credit are made available to scores of financially underserved consumers. However, fully realizing the benefit of the India Stack requires overcoming a range of roadblocks which are regulatory, technical, operational and behavioral in nature. 

The first study referred to as Project A throughout this document brought together Capital Float (marketplace/lender), Aditya Birla Finance Limited (lender) and Eko (remittance data provider). Eko merchants who carried out remittance based transactions through the Eko wallet received small ticket size loans within minutes of applying for the loan on a mobile-based app created by Capital Float. By using eKYC (for verification), eSign (for the loan agreement) and Aadhaar (for authentication). The second study (Project B), was based on the partnership between Suvidhaa and Axis bank, where Suvidhaa customers (comprising the financially underserved segment) received short-term, small ticket size loans at Suvidhaa retail outlets. Even though this was an assisted model where retailers carried out the eKYC process and eventually handed over a prepaid card (PPC) to the customer, the entire process was cashless and the customer was able to access the money within 24 hours.

Critiques and Concerns

Beyond governance by intentions

Already, [Modi’s] critics are denouncing the way the demonetization, digitization, Jan Dhan Yojana and Aadhaar linkages have been pushed in the country. This is something that Modi would want to avoid at all costs in light of his national status. The question then is: Does Modi have the courage to go beyond headlines to address implementation and sustainability-related concerns? Efficient decision making and effective implementation will require Modi to go beyond governing by intent. To truly make progress, the government will need to encourage impartial impact assessment of initiatives like mandating Aadhaar for social security schemes, Digital India, Make in India and Startup India. It will also need to take a long-term approach and introspect over its stand on issues like citizen surveillance, privacy, data protection, and consumer choice and protection. A comprehensive plan of action, outlining the objective of government policy, stakeholders involved, estimated impact, defining implementation, monitoring, compliance responsibilities and fixing accountability of actors, will need to be adopted. Such plans must be formulated after efficient public consultation and taking into account the concerns of diverse groups. ^i guess there’s no published plan of action and published assessments of Digital India

The impact so far: Has Jio's entry delayed Modi's Digital India goals?

The Mukesh Ambani-run firm has consistently promoted its telecom subsidiary Reliance Jio as a key driver of Digital India.Jio’s impact so far has been limited to mostly increasing urban teledensity while depleting the Universal Service Obligation fund (USOF) – a government fund that is used to build rural telecom infrastructure – by about Rs 1,600 crore in the fiscal ending March 31, 2017. This depletion is largely because revenues of India’s telecom industry have seen a big fall after the entry of Jio – contributions to the USOF are based on a share of total revenues. The fall in revenues therefore seriously delays the Modi government’s ambitious project of providing connectivity in rural and remote areas, which is the backbone of Digital India. 

Govt’s ‘Digital India’ push fails to help disabled

The government had in 2009 formulated a national policy for electronic accessibility; however, the websites could never become “user friendly” for all, irrespective of their ability. Formulated in 2009, the guidelines, experts say, have not been implemented in their letter and spirit. “In our audit of “accessible” websites, we found huge gaps. Even as the government is pushing to go digital, the guidelines need to be adhered to” meilin@peoplecentered.net Joe@andrieu.net


Left: opportunities


Middle: Notes


Mei Lin Fung (MLF)

• digital india 2

• Follow-up to Digital India 1

• gap between what goes on in the first world and silicon valley

• perfect identity world vs. real life in india

• huge gap, reason for this discussion, what can we do to breach that gap

• digital ID rolled out to more than a billion people

• brian from caribou has been on the ground and doing studies (room J at 3:30)

• IEEE making huge effort on internet inclusion

• How can we as a community help, share knowledge

• aardhar system

• huge infrastructure, lots of bad press, successes and issues

• Infrastructure influenced by the west

• impact and how the system has been experienced by epople on the ground

• UI DAI (https://uidai.gov.in/ )  - govt ministry built and managing

• 1.1B people enrolled

• tremendous success story but not 1.1B using it

• gap between enrollment and use

• most have it

• for many it is something they were told to get 

• technically voluntary but govt ratcheting up reqs for access (gas, food, kids lunches, cellphone in india, need bank card or aardhar card)

• 90% people dont have a bank card

• issues in deployment or access

Brian from Caribou

• formal and codified system and processes

• esp when digitized and invisible

• more important and critical for day to day

• harder it can make for people who formal systems are difficult or challenging to access

• women due to cultural issues

• disabilities - hard to access enrollment centers

• once you set down monolithic syst that is structured and all need to get onboard, takes away choice

• current user has arsenal of options - Pan card, drivers license, ration card - to engage in id transaction now being taken away (?)

• monolith that is rigid, hard to access - is a problem

• vary by states of india

• tremendous differences between states

• lot of differences, not all

Mei Lin Fung (MLF)

• IEEE has a role and see what the role could be

• reached out to architects in Modhi govt in digital india

• needs "on the ground" feel - what is useful?


• 3 thingsdigital india is trying to do

• 1. pub priv cooperation for digital infra

• 2. digital services (but govrt hasnt like singapore)

• how does india compare

• like UK, etc.

• 3. digital literacy

• stories about rual women getting microfinance

• what is proliferation of cellphones

Lily - have to fork from dumb to smartphones

• very high

• close to 100%

• Kenya

Joe - 

• we need to infect this with user-centric thinking about identity

• use open conversations


• thought we should have an anthology of the best canon of work from this community

• Body of Knowledge - disconnected, hard to find and really needed

Joe  - it's dense, PHD dissertation, 

Mei Lin Fung - network improvement communities, PCI , ways people can connect to each other

Julian - result needs to be doing something, no reason why we can't do something as well as talk about it


• Modhi and government-  people's aspirations and hopes this will be a gamechanger

• Dont want to be at par

• need to be innovative - the leapfrog, jumping a stack


• value creating, be those wins to do the leapfrog

• not immediately monetized the govt would want to take on

• eg - deeds


• leapfrogging incredibly important

• whats on the board - core aspect

• dont want to be a hammer looking for a nail 

• worked for IEEE - look at the problem the other way

• user needs and design product that works for them as opposed to "this is the solution"

• Example: Frugal 5G

• instead of worrying about 3g or 4g, interested in leapfrogging to in 5g

• great advantages

• high degree of cost and infra required

• how do we make this work?

• IEEE - frugal5g 

• does not require full infrastructure in 5g but uses current access points and community hubs for similar outcome for bandwidth

• connect the unconnected

• drive trust 

• push barriers to be much lower

• working together - pulling communities together to implement successfully

• economies for local societies are important

• suggest - as we talk broad strokes

• sometimes what works well

• what is the probelm we can do something about that is sustainable?

• take advantage of low technology

• Example - power 

• dont have to bring 24 hours of electricity to a place that has none - 1 to 2 hours is a gamechanger


• here are areas we are interested (left side of board)

• build credibility

• one approach

• what is doable


• example - smart contracts and deeds using blockchains

• huge issue to get court date


• example 

• do leapfrog via education

• registering do education and have credentials on the blockchain

• authentic truth - get education and grad degree, shared not just from w/in india


• interesting to have an IIW in India?

• bring THIS experience, the open space, community, mutual learning

• only interested in doing it there if invited and collaborative, needs to be interaction not presentation

Joes - back to leapfrog 

• Rebooting Web of Trust example - what do users really want?

• what is the reframing to get them to do it? 

• Idea - let us hold a leapfrog summit

• tech and political and social implications in india

• how to help leapfrog?

• take adv next gen of identity


• not talking africa

• how the latest african id conference was walking ad for gemalto and smart card people

• thats what id is

• whats the alternative vision that is accessible


• Id consists of 2 parts, identification data and activity side

• we could do something this year, they are looking for a digital locker in india

• just to put certs of education in

• leapfrog to med rec, all other stuff

• immediately get to self sovereign piece

• save billions

• get to microfinace, get to phone record that becomes worthy of level of credit

• stuff we can do

• show digital locker / self sov owning data can demo that, tangible, they havent done

• leapfrog to not use infra 


• worth pursuing

• Aardhar horse has left the barn

• not getting it back in

• Brian is not personally familiar with digital india initiative

• DAI - dont want help on ID tech

• they have vision, and executed on it

• its done

• not looking for technical assistance

• doing w/ india stack and priv sector involvedment

• really interesting and invite outside companies


• from outside everyon can see stark issues, no trust framework


•  additive, provide value and expose fact here is an opportunity

• move existing to make more use of the new


• a paper needs to be short and sharp "tip of speak"

• "here are some opps to leapfrog" to the decision makers

• 1-2 page paper, what he could get


• he wants help to 1000s of problems

• wants a process that is helpful

Alpesh - Is DAI looking for help?


• I work from intuition

• They need to work out what help is needed

• reached out on behalf of IEEE

• recognition there are challenges

• mired in firefighting


• Core problem statement is not there

• tons of bad press

•  is the help for other or for Digital India Initiative


• needs a process in how to address it

• IEEE does this for a living

• overwhelmed - needs help to rise up above to address the problem


• expansive of version 1

• paper for what it should do on systems level to have leadership in identity

• not answers but process for building functional system


• India has committed to connect the internet to 250k villages (across subcontinent)

• some dont want, others have land rights issues

• There may be something the IEEE and global comm could do for digital india

• dont want to come up on their own

• needs a diversity of ideas

• one example

• looking at countries

• Modhi invited singapore

• first speaker

• said education was key thing to find promise of leapfrog

• every head of state went to that meeting

• digital literacy and literal literacy

• first thing to address


• framework to use to facilitate that vote

• 3 things - 

o 1. do those things provide immediate value financial or benefit to the person enduring the pain in the situation
o 2.  is there a benefit to the govt
o 3 what is the heft of blockers

• example: deeds 

• more immediate benefit than ability to get a job b/c education has been certified

• whereas deeds prevents bickering over issues (massive implementation blockers)

Joe A

• category confusion

• whats the "doing"? 

• cool concepts but is "the doing" we  suggest and stand up a frugal 5g

• what is the doing, not seeing it for a lot of those

MLF - instinct to the process

• what they feel would fly

• process to tap global expertise in manner

Alpesh -what would process look like or id which one


• roll out process 

• advancing solutions for internet inclusion

• committed to 10 meetings with number of players

• regional components

• have meeting in india

• w/in meeting in india

• have process that is consultative and helpful is a good kickstart

• existing processes going on in IEEE could with ID crowd jump in



• education needed 

• sharing best practices

• only 1, nothing scale of IIW there

• or like a major security conference

• good start


• open space approach

• people show up bring their issues

• not bringing our message but collaborating, sharing ideas and work and issues

not to say "this is what you should do w/ identity


• in order to be successful, requires a pipeline of talented individuals coming downstream to avoid this happening again

• seen as a leader, sustainable perspective

• lot of strong talent there, not always understanding of talent


• Yes and - poeple centered internet, IEEE< team up, open doors

• demo things

• some action needs to occur

• action taken by that community

• driven by them

• beyond our interjecting in their ecosystem

• show or demo - issues that have occured in similar domains


• iceland example of identity and personal data pilot

• new living lab w/in iceland

• whole of iceland startup community built on Digi.me

• banks, telcos

• whole of the startup community in the framework

• do similar things 

• code, process, consensus


• important concept in this process, ID is seen as utility

• everyone should have ID

• seen as something only a set of folks could have or own

• sustainable growth from there

Around the room for last thought on action (what might we do):

• frugal 5g actively pursuing

• trust frameworks

• processes and standards

• talking to the people who are there, living day to day

• issues and help

• IIW India - most effective - get the people to help themselves - coalescing awareness to solve problem and get peopel together could help

• connect to peopel there, create snowball effect

• move forward

• conversation w/ indian pros - IIW India

• engage in