Rajesh Dhuddu, Global Practice Leader, Blockchain, Tech Mahindra

India is upbeat about embracing new technologies like  blockchain, IoT  and  AI to achieve its ambitious target of becoming a $1 trillion digital economy by 2025. Digitalisation is gaining traction in India and can be a significant growth driver for sectors such as financial services, agriculture, healthcare, real estate and utilities. Blockchain is at the core of India’s massive transformational journey. It has the potential to enable secured movement and agreements like deeds, government records, financial instruments. Insurance, healthcare, financial services, real estate, transportation and logistics will witness increased disintermediation through blockchain as these sectors currently rely on intermediaries. Blockchain also eliminates third-party risks.

Blockchain transforming the telecom industry

To stay competitive in the market, telecom companies need to innovate while also ensuring the affordability of their services. In India, blockchain can effectively perform multiple functions like offering digital services a large scale and helping check frauds and data misuse. Blockchain is now being used to mitigate the problem of unsolicited commercial communication in the country. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended blockchain as the ideal solution to curb the menace of unsolicited commercial calls and spamming. Besides checking spam, the technology can support IoT by federating data from millions of sensors. Apart from this, blockchain can help the telecom industry address several friction points that arise from cross-carrier collaboration. These include billing, settlements, taxes and subscriber identity. Blockchain is also expected to facilitate mobile edge computing by leveraging idle computers and network- attached storage devices, thus creating new revenues sources for telecom companies. According to Gartner forecasts, blockchain is estimated to be a $3 trillion market by 2030, and its main focus is on attracting corporates and governments.

Relevance and use cases across industries

With its enormous potential, blockchain will play a key role in addressing the complex challenges of the world in the future. It can also play a vital role in furthering the Digital India mandate, ensuring safe and secure transactions, especially given the explosion of connected devices other than mobile phones. India’s massive public healthcare insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, is exploring blockchain for claims engine, where policies can be digitally signed and verified to make them tamper-proof. Blockchain can ease the know-your-customer (KYC) process with realtime data exchange among different banks and also within banks. A leading stock market exchange in India is exploring blockchain for managing KYC documents by partnering with banks. In retail, a blockchain startup is developing a customer identification platform that allows brick-and-mortar retailers to identify customers walking into the store in real time using its proprietary sensor technology. The potential of blockchain is reflected in the faith shown by the central government and several state governments. They are using the technology in critical public distribution systems to ensure that its benefits reach the intended beneficiaries and completely eliminate intermediaries.

A small step for a big leap

The decision taken by the Andhra Pradesh government to adopt blockchain, a first by any state in India, is a significant beginning. The state will leverage blockchain technology for governance. This involves preventing tampering, protecting digital assets and transactions, and piloting two projects that streamline vehicle registrations and manage land records. Telangana is the first state in India to create a blockchain district to nurture a vibrant ecosystem comprising blockchain companies, blockchain training institutes, accelerators and academia. The state’s Information Technology, Electronics and Communication Department has signed an MoU with Tech Mahindra to set up an incubator for technology and process development with innovative infrastructure and facilities to foster the growth of Indian blockchain startups and companies.

Public and private blockchain

Blockchain has the potential to bring transparency in both government and private sectors. In the public sector, blockchain can bring in disintermediation while in the private sector it serves as a critical pivot of digital transformation for enterprises.

Blockchain, a real watchdog

The security, data preservation and networking capabilities of blockchain are built around traditional cybersecurity barriers and enable information sharing for contemporary businesses in a trusted and federated manner. The range of blockchain applications is indeed enormous, covering social as well as commercial sectors. Businesses need to leverage its potential sooner rather than later to enhance the safety and efficiency for the growing number of netizens operating in a digital world. It will also usher us into a world where we will be utilising the trusted layer through self-sovereign identity, which is currently missing on the internet. The ultimate objective of blockchain is to make systems and processes trustworthy.