India is the second most populated country on the globe, comprised of 1.2 billion citizens. If you add in the number of those who are in poverty or aren’t accounted for, due to an antiquated or broken identity system, the amount could rise up exponentially. With such an impressively populated country that maintains its share of social issues, it’s the prime candidate for Ethereum to help in reforming a few of these problems.
The tech industry within India is steadily transforming into a formidable space for entrepreneurs and businesses. According to the statistics of IT in India, “In 2013, information technology and its various subsectors represented 8 percent of the nation’s overall GDP, making it the fifth largest industry in India. In the 2014/15 financial year alone, the IT industry in India generated an annual revenue of around 120 billion U.S. dollars, a significant increase from around 60 billion U.S. dollars in 2008/09.”
With the clear presentation of information tech numbers rising, India could potentially be the next country to see Ethereum growth within the fintech industry. Fintech Storm is considered a revolutionary event that examines solutions for financial institutions, looks into disruptive innovations, and evaluates the changing regulatory landscape. Fintech Storm has been prescient in spotting banking, payments, and fintech trends such as the possibilities of the blockchain. Tomorrow, on December 6, 2016, Fintech Storm enters India for the first ever Blockchain Summit in New Delhi. This summit will examine the blockchain, distributed ledgers, cryptography, Ethereum, smart contracts, decentralized applications, and more within the blockchain industry. Vitalik Buterin, brainchild, and Founder of Ethereum will speak at the Blockchain India Summit and present how it can revolutionize the Indian fintech sector. Buterin is joined by other prominent speakers such as Arifa Khan (CEO of Zero Field Labs), Bruce Pon (CEO of BigChain DB), Eddy Travia (CEO of Coinsilium), Andrew Keys (Consensys), and Leanne Kemp (CEO of Everledger).
There is a great amount of potential for Ethereum in India due to its established computer and mathematics hub. The Blockchain Summit comes at a time where innovators are looking at incorporating the Ethereum blockchain into the world of India’s tech-savvy workforce. This could prove to be a potentially beneficial move for India’s economy and could reform any antiquated systems of identity or governance.
Voter fraud, for example, is an issue that has plagued India for decades. Within more rural areas, getting to polling stations can still prove difficult even with the recent activist pressure to initiate reforms. Voter manipulation is also strong and comes in the form of the outright exchange of money for votes, or getting voters intoxicated so voters are in no condition to find their way to their polling places. Since India’s ballot system is all-electronic, these machines can be tampered with. With Ethereum, the transparency of the blockchain could potentially combat voting manipulation and create a transparent system of results if votes are cast and counted using the blockchain.
Remittances can provide another opportunity for Ethereum and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to outpace stagnation in a productive way. India is the largest remittance recipient in the world—it received $69 billion in remittances in 2015, according to the World Bank’s annual “Migration and Development Brief.” However, remittance fees are very high at 6-9% and India’s current systems are slow and inefficient, leaving millions of impoverished people at the mercy of crawling transaction times.
Cryptocurrencies like Ether and Bitcoin can potentially streamline the remittance industry, bringing fees down below 2%, offering safety, security, and instant access to funds for those who desperately need it.
Broken identity systems are currently an issue that Ethereum startups are also seeking to reform. By giving Indian residents a digital identity through the Ethereum blockchain, this allows rights and economic advances when they originally had none. The internet and biometrics industries have already begun infiltrating India’s identity systems, however, these centralized systems are still vulnerable. A lack of identity is a divide in India and it denies many impoverished Indians access to welfare programs. While biometrics are a great way to confirm identity, the added technology of the Ethereum blockchain could present a more accessible and widely accepted form of identity management.
Cryptocurrency is already a blossoming industry in India. Unocoin, the Indian Bitcoin exchange has over 100,000 users, and has raised $1.5 million dollars in a pre-Series A funding round on Sept. 28, 2016, from investors such as Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels, ah! Ventures, and international investors such as the Digital Currency Group, Boost VC, BnkToTheFuture, and FundersClub. With Unocoin’s recent release of their mobile wallet for iOS and Android, this shows that cryptocurrency use within India is gaining traction.
Ethereum has also entered the densely populated country in the form of an Ether exchange. EthexIndia (beta) is an ETH wallet system that enables real-time trade between ETH and INR.
The cryptographically secure decentralized technology of Ethereum could potentially benefit a society that has historically found little solace in placing trust in large centralized institutions. With Vitalik Buterin's trip to the first ever blockchain summit in India, this shows prominent growth and adoption of the Ethereum technology within this highly populated country. As Ethereum purveyors have seen with the Ethereum growth in China, the most populated country in the world, India is certainly not far behind.