India ranks behind five African countries including Uganda and Nigeria in Financial and Digital Inclusion says a recent study published by the Brookings Institute. While at first glance this may sound disappointing, a closer look at the data reveals great news for Indian companies which are in the financial services and the digital space.
According to the report, India ranks well in three out of four parameters used by the Institute, with the country doing extremely well in parameters relating to the country’s commitment to Financial and Digital Inclusion; and regulatory environment; wherein India has received the highest possible score. The achilles heel seems to be the adoption of services where India scores an abysmal 44%. This is where the Indian companies looking to garner a greater wallet share of the Indian customers are bound to benefit greatly.
A scrutiny of the the adoption parameter reveals that India lags behind in the following-
- Percentage of adults utilizing online bill payments and purchases
- Mobile money account penetration among women
- Mobile phone used to receive salary or wages (among recent wage-earners)
- Mobile phone used to make utility payments (among adults regularly making utility bill payments)
In fact many of the Indian players have latched on to the opportunity. Recognising the opportunity that a country like India provides, Mukesh Ambani recently said, “I think the opportunities are immense and we now have the infrastructure to do it in our own market and make India one of the largest software markets.” Further underscoring the importance of data in the Indian context he said, “To my mind, data is the new natural resource. In that sense, India is blessed with 1.3 billion people, for it to have real value it has to be processed into intelligence. Data is the new oil and its benefit is immense to society. India with its young population will have a competitive advantage.”
At the launch of Digital India two years ago, which has a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, several companies had pledged to invest heavily to aid the government in its endeavour. Top corporates including Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group and Bharti Enterprises committed to investments to the tune of Rs 4.5 lakh crore collectively in the next five years crore for initiatives to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project , while also promising to create about 18 lakh jobs in the country. As these investments bear fruit, India’s is certainly on the path to become financially and digitally empowered.