Asserting that India was one of the top nations for fintech adoption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today exhorted the global fintech majors and startups to make India their destination with its vast market and economies of scale.
"I say this to all the fintech companies and startups – India is your best destination. The economies of scale achieved in India by the LED bulb industry allowed this energy efficient technology to become more affordable globally. Likewise, India’s vast market can enable fintech products to achieve scale, reduce risks and costs, and go global," Modi said in his keynote address at the ongoing Singapore Fintech Festival.
The Indian PM is the first head of government to deliver the keynote address at Fintech Festival that is running into its third edition this year.
Modi said an enormous talent pool in India benefits from the ecosystem created by initiatives such as Digital India and Startup India, and by supportive policies, incentives and funding programmes.
"It also helps that India has the largest data consumption in the world and the cheapest rates," he said after the launch of APIX, an online fintech marketplace, that will enable financial institutions to discover and connect fintech firms for financial inclusion of over 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world.
"The Fintech Festival is also a celebration of belief. Belief in the spirit of innovation and the power of imagination. Belief in the energy of youth and their passion for change. Belief in making the world a better place," Modi said.
Noting that Singapore has been a global hub for finance, the PM said the country is now taking a leap into the digital future of finance.
"It was here, in June this year, that I launched India’s RuPay card and the first international remittance mobile app using India’s world class Unified Payment Interface or UPI," he recalled, adding, "Today, I will have the honour to launch a global platform to connect fintech firms and financial institutions, beginning with ASEAN and Indian banks and fintech companies."
India and Singapore are also working to connect Indian and ASEAN small and medium enterprises, anchored on an Indian platform, and expand it globally.
"I have heard of an advice going around in start-up circles: To increase your Venture Capital funding by 10 per cent, tell the investors you run a platform. If you want to increase your VC funding by 20 per cent, tell the investors that you are operating in the fintech space. But, if you really want the investors to empty their pockets, tell them that you are using blockchain," Modi remarked.
"It tells you of the excitement and promise of emerging technologies to transform the world of finance, Indeed, finance is often the first to embrace new technology and connectivity," he added.
Modi said there is an explosion of fintech innovation and enterprise in India which has turned India into a leading fintech and startup nation in the world.
"The future of fintech and Industry 4.0 is emerging in India. Our youth are developing apps that are making the dream of paperless, cashless, presence-less, and yet safe and secure, transactions possible for all. That is the wonder of India Stack – simply the largest set of Application Programming Interface in the world," he said.
"They are using Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and machine learning to create solutions for banks, regulators and consumers. And, they are also embracing our nation’s social missions – from health and education to micro credit and insurance. In short, the Indian story shows six great benefits of fintech: Access, inclusion; connectivity; ease of living; opportunity; and, accountability," Modi added.
"But, there is much to be done. Our focus should be the development of all, through, that is, development of the most marginalised. We must bring the unbanked 1.7 billion people in the world into the formal financial market. We must extend the security of insurance and pension to more than a billion workers in the informal sectors worldwide, who still do not have it. We can use fintech to ensure that no dream remains unfulfilled, and no enterprise remains stillborn, because of lack of access to finance," the Indian PM said.
"We must make banks and financial institutions more resilient in managing risks, fighting frauds and dealing with disruption of traditional models. We have to use technology to improve compliance, regulation and supervision so that innovation flourishes and risks are contained," he said.
"We must use fintech tools to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. The emerging world of finance will succeed in our inter-connected world when our data and systems are trusted and secure. We have to make our globally wired system safe from cyber threats," he added.