'Things Are Exploding There': Bill Gates Touts India's Digital Finance Approach as 'Phenomenal'

© AP Photo / Jim UrquhartMicrosoft founder Bill Gates arrives at the Frank E. Moss federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Monday, 21 November 2011
Microsoft founder Bill Gates arrives at the Frank E. Moss federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Monday, 21 November 2011 - Sputnik International
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Indians adopted its first digital payment methods back in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised some major currency notes to tackle corruption in India. Four years later, over 660 million Indians are using mobile-based digital payment methods to shop and pay.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday lauded India for incorporating digital financial services at such a mass level. He believes India’s approach to digital financing is a model for other countries.

“If people are going to study one country right now, other than China, I’d say they should look at India. Things are really exploding there and innovation around that system is phenomenal,” the 65-year-old multi-billionaire said during his address at the Singapore Fintech Festival.

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In a report released last year, Indian firm Razorpay noted that between 2018 and 2019, the usage of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) systems grew by a whopping 442 percent in Delhi alone – testifying to the popularity of the online payment service.

The mobile-only UPI is an instant real-time payment system regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that allows smartphone-powered Indians to process immediate inter-bank money transfers. 

After being launched in 2016, the system saw transactions worth $19 billion through March 2019.

Calling India a “great example”, Gates also revealed that his philanthropic foundation is working with other countries to facilitate the rollout of open-source technologies based on India’s digital payments method and its effective implementation. 

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Earlier, in a flagship report, the United Nations (UN) had also acknowledged India's progressive utilisation of digital platforms to bridge gaps related to gender, income, and education for groups that collectively make for its 1.37 billion people, the second-largest population of any country in the world.

At the time, the UN had praised India for successfully implementing a unique identification procedure -- Aadhaar –- a biometrics-based system, that not only made public services more effective but also yielded an increase in the penetration of financial services. 

The Indian government’s inclination towards pushing more people to try digital payments comes as part of  its “Digital India” initiative, which, as is evident from its name, aims to help more and more Indians to use technology to ease their lives. 

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