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India’s Bitcoin Hopes Perk Up with Appointment of Nilekani as G20 Digital Outreach Taskforce Chief

An influential bitcoin supporter has been appointed by the Indian government to head the G20 outreach task force for digital transformation. India assumed the rotational presidency of G20 in December. It’s expected to drive the agenda of this powerful economic bloc and may push for global cryptocurrency regulation.

Given this the appointment of Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and current executive chairman of India’s second-largest information technology company, Infosys, is significant for the cryptocurrency sector. He has been taken on board as the co-chair of the “G20 Task Force on Digital Public Infrastructure for Economic Transformation, Financial Inclusion and Development.”

Speaking at the Reuters Next Conference in December 2021, Nilekani said crypto assets can help in financial inclusion and are worth consideration. 

“There is a role for crypto as assets but they obviously will have to follow all the laws and make sure that it doesn’t become a backdoor for money laundering … they have to use that [as] an entry point to get lot of young people into financial markets,” he had said

Earlier that year, Nilekani backed crypto in an interview with the Financial Express, saying they can be treated as safe heaven investments similar to real estate and gold. For the Indian economy, it is an opportunity to leverage the trillion-dollar crypto industry. 

“We should think of crypto as an asset class and allow people to have some crypto. Crypto as a transaction medium will not work as fast as UPI, which is targeting a billion transactions a day. However, crypto has enormous capital,” Nilekani had said.

In February 2022, there were claims on social media that the tech billionaire had launched a crypto project. Nilekani publicly refuted the claim in a tweet

“You may have encountered a post on various social media platforms claiming that I have launched a crypto project. This is #fakenews! Please avoid clicking on it and report it as misleading/false information on the platform where you see it,” he claimed. 

In an interview with Moneycontrol, he did not sound enthusiastic about India’s plans to launch CBDC. “I am not sure we need a private stablecoin or if a digital rupee will be good enough.”

Speaking at Microsoft’s “Future Ready Technology Summit” in Bengaluru early this month, Nilekani told Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella that India has reached only halfway through its digital journey. 

“We need to ensure a more equitable, more inclusive, open access digital transformation,” said Nilekani.   

As a G20 President, India aims to promote its advances in the field of digital transformation to other countries which have been left behind in the adoption of digital transformation solutions. 

Nandan Nilekani is also the chief architect of a 12-digit unique identification system based on biometrics called Adhaar, which is now distributed to over 1 billion Indian citizens. Together with other digital innovations in payments, governance, healthcare, and other spheres, Aadhaar creates the infrastructure for a robust Application Programming Interface (API), enabling a whole host of digital solutions. 

For example, India’s Covid vaccination program saw 1100 million people registering on the open Co-Win platform and 2200 doses of vaccines administered in a time-bound manner without any duplication and glitches. Besides, India’s highly successful Unified Payments Interface (UPI) processed 7.82 billion transactions in December 2022 and 72 billion transactions in the calendar year 2022. India wants these achievements to take to other developing and under-developed countries through its leadership of G20. 


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