Ever since Bitcoin (BTC) popularized blockchain technology worldwide, the technology has been implemented in various processes, ranging from finance to public administration.
What initially served as a statement for early adopters has now become a means to modernize outdated systems and enhance immutability, transparency, and decentralization.
Although blockchain has proven real-world applications, many government agencies remain cautious about integrating it into their paper-based processes due to its association with the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
However, emerging economies are starting to view blockchain as a rare opportunity to establish a trust-based system for society.
While India is still hesitant to fully legalize cryptocurrencies, the country has generally embraced blockchain technology.
In India, numerous initiatives by local and state governments, such as data management systems and issuance of verifiable certificates, currently utilize blockchain technology as their foundation.
The rapid adoption of blockchain in India is supported by an active community of developers and startups that create tailored solutions for specific use cases.
Cointelegraph’s conversation with Ankur Rakhi Sinha, co-founder and CEO of Airchains, a Web3 startup focusing on middleware software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, shed light on India’s enthusiasm for blockchain and the role of elected officials in driving change.
Cointelegraph: What is the primary driver behind the race to adopt blockchain in India?
Ankur Rakhi Sinha: The adoption of blockchain in India is driven by the numerous benefits it offers to enterprises and institutions. Organizations within their ecosystem recognize the immense advantages of integrating blockchain technology. It addresses various challenges at different levels, such as enhancing transparency, traceability, and establishing trust.
These factors contribute to the growing interest and widespread adoption of blockchain in India.
India is one of the fastest-growing blockchain markets globally, with over 56% of Indian businesses expressing a desire to adopt blockchain technology. With a substantial developer base of 10 million, India’s talent pool has been globally recognized by leading Web3 firms aiming to promote Web3 innovation and growth.
CT: In your discussions with government agencies, is there any conversation about adopting cryptocurrencies?
ARS: Currently, there is uncertainty surrounding regulatory approvals for cryptocurrency adoption. However, government agencies are actively exploring different avenues and seeking improved regulations. They are open to the idea and diligently working towards creating a conducive environment for cryptocurrency adoption.
CT: Can you provide any data or use cases that demonstrate improvements over the old system?
ARS: Yes, our recent collaboration with the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) showcases real-life adoption of blockchain. With a vast expanse of 27,000 acres of land and 50,000 nonfungible tokens (NFTs) used for land mutation by NKDA, representing one million ownerships, these initiatives have revolutionized traditional approaches and highlight the growing recognition and commitment to harnessing blockchain’s potential for innovation and efficiency across various sectors.
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CT: Is India heavily investing in blockchain? Are there any government initiatives driving this objective?
ARS: Yes, India is definitely making significant investments in blockchain. Various government agencies and entities in India actively seek collaborations with blockchain solutions. Although there have been no high-level blockchain initiatives from the Indian government so far, there is strong demand from government entities that Airchains is actively addressing. One of the notable use cases of blockchain adoption involves the first-ever NFT-based land mutation in India.
In January 2020, NITI Aayog’s report titled “Blockchain: The India Strategy” highlighted the government’s awareness of the promise of core blockchain technology while considering regulations for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Numerous Indian government bodies support the adoption of blockchain technology and have partnered with Airchains to incorporate innovative blockchain-based systems that ensure accountability and security. For example, the Raigarh District Authority collaborated with us to develop a blockchain-based plantation monitoring system for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and the Firozabad Police Department worked with us to build a blockchain complaint management system to prevent tampering of reports.
CT: How well do Indian officials understand blockchain and related technologies?
ARS: Indian government agencies, state governments, and bureaucrats possess a deep understanding of blockchain and Web3 technologies. They are well-versed in the latest developments and trends in the blockchain sector, including liquidity, private chains, and zero-knowledge rollups. Their understanding of blockchain goes beyond surface-level knowledge, as many executives have a comprehensive understanding of how the technology functions. While some executives contemplate the ideal operation of blockchain, others actively explore ways to leverage this technology to address their unique challenges.
CT: What role does blockchain play in India’s overall development?
ARS: Blockchain technology is poised to play a significant role in India’s future development, propelling the country to a prominent position globally. The increasing number of emerging developers, enterprises, and institutional use cases in India highlights the substantial growth potential of blockchain in the country. As blockchain adoption continues to expand, it is expected to drive innovation, economic growth, and create new opportunities in various sectors.
India’s growth has also been boosted by the entry of global Web3 players into the Indian developer market. According to the 2022 NASSCOM Indian Web3 Landscape Analysis Report, India is home to over 450 Web3 startups and has received investments exceeding $1.5 billion between 2021 and 2022. Additionally, the report states that India accounts for 11% of the global Web3 talent, making it the third-largest globally. Given the vast developer talent and active Web3 community in India, blockchain has the potential to make significant contributions in the country.
CT: Have there been any nationwide implementations of blockchain in India or plans for such implementations in the future?
ARS: Discussions about nationwide blockchain implementation in India have taken place at various levels. Organizations such as the National Payments Corporation of India and the Unified Payments Interface are exploring and testing the potential of blockchain technology. Public sector banks are also actively experimenting with blockchain to determine how they can leverage its capabilities. These initiatives indicate the strong possibility of nationwide blockchain use cases emerging in the near future. Airchains recently executed a use case at the state level with NKDA, and we are currently working on multiple state-level use cases that have the potential to impact the entire country.
CT: How do you persuade a government body to adopt a new system?
ARS: Government entities are actively interested in adopting blockchain solutions to address their specific challenges. However, they emphasize the importance of operating within the regulatory framework. Demonstrating transparency, efficiency, and positive outcomes is crucial to gaining government support during the development process.
CT: Which countries are ahead of India in terms of widespread blockchain adoption? What measures should a country take to accelerate blockchain adoption?
ARS: Several Central American countries are actively pursuing widespread blockchain adoption within their ecosystems. India, being a large country, is actively working to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology through multiple use cases. With multiple agencies exploring various applications, the country has established itself as a center of excellence in blockchain. Clear regulations are essential to accelerate progress, including guidelines for blockchain implementation and determining permissible use cases. These measures facilitate faster execution and widespread adoption.
CT: Can domestic blockchain technology be utilized for offshore use cases?
ARS: Many projects originating from India, such as Polygon and various Layer-1 and Layer-2 solutions, have gained global recognition. Airchains has also successfully collaborated with government agencies globally, including in Central America and Europe. Currently, multiple offshore projects involving Airchains are in progress and expected to be completed within the next six to seven months. The goal of utilizing domestic blockchain technology for offshore use cases is being pursued.
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CT: How does the funding process work? What are your investors seeking?
ARS: Investors primarily seek scalability and feasibility in blockchain adoption, among other key factors. Funding in the blockchain sector typically involves investors who believe in the technology’s potential to bring about transformative change.
CT: What advice do you have for fellow blockchain entrepreneurs in India?
ARS: My advice is to focus on building a wide range of use cases and driving high-level adoption of blockchain. By creating innovative solutions and demonstrating the real-world benefits of blockchain technology, we can accelerate its adoption and drive positive change across various industries.
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