“India: The World’s First Data Democracy” Special address by Orbit Change Catalyst, Mr. Sharad Sharma


On 21 September 2017, Mr. Sharad Sharma, Co-Founder of iSPIRT and CEO of BrandSigma, visited the Academy of BFSI campus for a special address to the learners and faculty members on the digital evolution of India.


Mr. Sharma evangelized the technological revolutions that are taking the country by storm and delivered a highly insightful and interactive session on the efforts of India Stack that aim to improve the lives of the relatively marginalized India 3.0 citizens. Mr. Sharma took the 500+ learners who were in attendance from banks such as ICICI, Bank of Baroda, Federal Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and more, through the structure of India Stack which is primarily built on three building blocks: the technology stack, the societal stack, and the industry stack. He said the India Stack is akin to “Wikipedia – open source but very effortful; a labor of love, neither work nor leisure.”


Mr. Sharma especially stressed on the importance of the technology and societal stacks, which focus on bringing presence-less, paper-less, and cash-less financial transactions to the struggling lower income groups. In an anecdotal address of how digital banking and payment systems such as Bhim and PayTm are empowering the working classes, Mr. Sharma threw light on how even traditional rickshaw-pullers of India can now build a healthy credit history. He also termed the UPI payment system as the world’s most innovative payment system in the world.


Mr. Sharma went on share staggering data on the use of Aadhar authentication at 40 million per day in Indian as compared to 18 million financial transaction per day through debit cards, credit cards, ATM transaction and more. To questions on the privacy concerns of Aadhar by the learners, Mr. Sharma retained that while there have been repeated attacks, the system has strong anti-fraud protection and that there has not been a single attack on UPI. He also shared interesting experiments that the government and the technology evangelists are working on together – for example, TRAI setting up mass scale Wi-Fi by enabling individuals to sell unused data to others.


In a special note to the faculty and future bankers of the nation, Mr. Sharma said that the banking industry will change more in the next 10 years than it ever has in the past, and encouraged the learners to prioritize the empowerment of the 80 million marginalized citizens of India 3.0, stating that it is the innovation at the hands of the banks that will lead India into a developed nation status.