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Digital payments could account for 71.7% of the total payments volume by 2025, leaving cash and cheques at 28.3%, according to a recent report. Last year, the transaction volume share in India stood at 15.6% and 22.9% for instant payments and other electronic payments, respectively. Paper-based payments had a considerable share of 61.4%, the report said.

More than 70.3 billion real-time payments transactions were processed globally in 2020, a surge of 41% compared to the previous year, as the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated trends away from cash and cheques towards greater reliance on real-time and digital payments, the report stated.

During 2020, India was ahead of countries such as China and the US. The country processed 25.5 billion real-time payments transactions, followed by 15.7 billion in China, 6 billion in South Korea, 5.2 billion in Thailand, and 2.8 billion in the UK. Among the top ten countries, the US was ranked ninth with 1.2 billion transactions.

By 2025, the share of volume by instant payments and other electronic payments, however, is expected to rise to 37.1% and 34.6% respectively. Leaving the volume of paper-based transactions at 28.3%. Furthermore, by 2024 the share of real-time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50%.

The report also estimated that by 2024, the share of real time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50%. An industry expert explained that India’s journey of creating a digital financial infrastructure can be characterised by collaboration between the government, the regulator, banks, and fintech. This helped advance the country’s goal to achieve financial inclusion and provide rapid payment digitisation. The pandemic has further accelerated digital payment adoption with many first-time users adopting electronic payment systems.

A news report noted that India’s digital payments market surged during the pandemic even as incentives such as cash backs, rewards, and offers helped businesses to attract more customers. Moreover, policy frameworks such as Pre-Paid Instruments (PPI), Universal Payment Interface (UPI) by the NPCI apart from Aadhar, and the launch of BHIM-app have driven the financial inclusion and improved the payment acceptance infrastructure in the country in the past few years.

As the industry evolves, it is estimated that economies will witness increased adoption across different users and volume growth will be driven by recurring payments, transit payments, and cross-border transactions. As the pandemic continues to drive changes in consumer and business behaviours, banks, merchants, and intermediaries across the payment ecosystem are responding rapidly, prioritising the shift to digital platforms to protect current revenue streams, and search for new ones through a fully digitised customer experience.

With millions of people globally having to change the way they work and live – and the way they shop and pay – mobile wallet adoption rose to a record high of 46% in 2020, up from 40.6% in 2019 and 18.9% in 2018. Countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Malaysia where many people historically relied on cash are now some of the fastest adopters of mobile wallets. An official said that the pandemic has cast the spotlight on the importance of digital payments and robust payment infrastructures, condensing a decade of anticipated innovation into one year and creating human behavioural changes that will not reverse as the world emerges from the crisis.

Three initiatives for the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) have been inaugurated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). NIXI will play a significant role in helping Indian entities learn about and adopt IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet protocol.

It provides identification and location information for devices and networks connecting to the Internet. A news report explained that the protocol is considered especially important with the impending move to 5G, which will increase the total number of devices connecting to the Internet. Last February, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had mandated all government organisations to transition to IPv6 by March 2020.

It said that IPv6 could offer better traceability and interaction between networks and devices in the future. This is a crucial factor, given the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is expected once 5G networks start rolling in.

NIXI was formed in 2003 and works to provide improved Internet services in the country. It was set up for peering ISPs among themselves to reroute domestic traffic within the country, instead of from abroad. This enhances the quality of service (reduced latency) and reduces bandwidth charges for ISPs by saving on international bandwidth.

IPv6 Expert Panel (IP Guru)

The IP Guru group was created to support Indian entities that have technical trouble migrating to and adopting IPv6. Additionally, the IPv6 expert group will identify and hire agencies to help end customers by providing the necessary technical support to adopt IPv6. The panel will guide and aid IPv6 adoption. It comprises members from DoT, MeitY, and private organisations.

NIXI Academy

The NIXI Academy educates technical and non-technical people in the country about technologies like IPv6, which are generally not taught in educational institutes. The platform helps network operators and educators understand networking best practices, principles, and techniques. It shows users how to manage Internet resources better and use Internet technologies more effectively.

The NIXI Academy consists of an IPv6 training portal, which was developed by several technical experts. It offers mass training tools. The beginner training materials offered initially will be available for free, but advanced courses may be offered in the future and will be chargeable. Successful candidates (that have passed the examination) will receive a certificate from NIXI, which will be useful to find jobs in the industry.

NIXI-IP-INDEX

NIXI has also developed an IPv6 index portal for the Internet community. It will showcase the IPv6 adoption rate in India and across the world. It can be used to compare IPv6 domestic data with other economies in the world. The portal will provide details about IPv6 adoption and traffic, shortly. It is expected to motivate organisations to adopt IPv6. It will collect input and research for planning by technical organisations and academicians.

Organisations and governments aim to abolish the old IPv4 protocol, which was based on 32-bit systems. It could only accommodate 4.3 billion devices. This is not enough for the proliferation of devices connected to the Internet today. IPv6 is more secure, efficient, and mobile-friendly, making it a suitable system for use in the future of 5G. “The idea is that IPv6 addresses will be used as identifiers for both external and internal devices in your organization,” according to a technical policy analyst.

The Indian Supreme Court recently launched its first artificial intelligence-driven research portal, the Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SUPACE). It is an AI-enabled assistive tool to improve the efficiency of legal researchers and judges by aiding the extraction of relevant information about a case. It can read case files, manage teamwork, and draft case documents.

As per a news report, the portal is accessible through a login ID and password. It provides easily accessible summaries, files, and documents of cases in the database. Tasks and the details of progress and people are also displayed. A universal search allows a user to scan through all the files in the database.

Through the portal, the Supreme Court intends to leverage machine learning to deal with the large amount of data received while case filing. Chief Justice SA Bobde, who inaugurated the portal, described it as a “hybrid system” and “a perfect blend of human intelligence and machine learning”.

The news report outlined the four parts of SUPACE’s AI-powered workflow:

  • File Preview: The case files, typically available as PDFs, can also be converted into text. There is also a search tool to browse through the case files.
  • Chatbot: The text and voice-enabled chatbot provides a quick overview of the case, by answering questions such as “What is the matter about?” or “Which fundamental rights of the petitioner are violated?” The Chatbot can switch between documents for the answer while allowing the user to check the source. It suggests further questions for a better understanding of the case. The user can print the entire question summary.
  • Logic Gate: The fact extraction system for the chatbot is divided into four parts: Synopsis, FAQs, Evidence, and Case Law. These give information about the case such as the overview, chronology, and judgement. In the near future, with enough training and refinement of the algorithm, the chatbot will have the ability to answer any questions about the case- whether factual or contextual.
  • Notebook: The portal offers an integrated word processor. The user can produce a summary of the case by simply collating all information auto-extracted from the database using the AI tool. Further, the portal offers a voice dictation option to prepare notes. Therefore, without typing a word, a summary document can be prepared as a soft or hard copy.

Justice L Nageswara Rao, who was present during the unveiling, is the current chairman of the Supreme Court’s Artificial Intelligence Committee. SUPACE has been designed to only process information and make it available to the Judges. Government officials have stressed the portal will not be involved in the decision-making of a case. For now, only the Judges in the Delhi and Bombay High Courts that deal with criminal cases will use the portal on an experimental basis. According to Justice SA Bobde, AI is better at processing words and figures and will only collect the data, discover facts, and present it to the Judges. The final call will rest with the Judges. AI in the judiciary system enables the automation of mundane processes. Legal teams have to process numerous amounts of data and implementing AI will reduce pendency and costs and increase speed and efficiency.

An electronic marketplace to provide a platform that connects aquaculture farmers and potential buyers has been inaugurated by the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Through the portal, farmers will get better prices on their products. It also allows exporters to purchase directly from farmers, enhancing traceability, which is a key factor in international trade. The portal will act as a bridge between the fishermen and buyers, within the country and abroad.

The portal is called e-SANTA and stands for Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA farmers’ Trade in Aquaculture. NaCSA or the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture is an extension under the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

At the virtual launch, Goyal noted that e-SANTA will raise income, independence, quality, and traceability. It will improve standards of living and provide new options for aqua farmers. He said that the platform will “change the traditional way of carrying out business”.

According to a press release, e-SANTA is a “digital bridge” to end the market divide. It will function as an alternative marketing tool by eliminating the middleman. It provides a cashless, contactless, and paperless electronic trade method between farmers and exporters.

The farmers have the freedom to list their produce and quote their prices. Similarly, exporters have the freedom to list their requirements and choose the products based on the desired size, location, and harvest dates. This enables the farmers and buyers to have greater control over the trade, allowing them to make informed decisions. The platform offers detailed specifications of each product listing and is backed by an end-to-end electronic payment system, with NaCSA as an escrow agent.

After the crop listing and online negotiation, a deal is struck, an advance payment is made, and an estimated invoice is generated. Once the harvest date is fixed, the buyer goes to the farm gate and the produce is harvested with them present. When the harvest is completed, a final count is taken, the quantity of material is verified, and a delivery receipt is issued. After the material reaches the processing plant, the final invoice is generated, and the exporter makes the balance payment. This payment is reflected in the escrow account. NaCSA verifies it and accordingly releases the payment to farmers.

In the future, e-SANTA could become an auction platform by enabling the collective advertising of products that the buyers, fishermen, and fish-producing organisations are harvesting. People in India and abroad can know what is available through the website. The platform is available in several languages, making it accessible for the local population.

Goyal also outlined challenges for farmers in traditional aqua farming, including, market monopoly and exploitation. On the other hand, exporters often face inconsistency and quality gaps in the products they purchase. He claimed that e-SANTA has the potential to bring substantive improvements in farmers’ lives and enhance India’s reputation in global trade.

According to Goyal, the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and NaCSA initiatives have the potential to change the map of marketing of aqua products in the country. NaCSA aims to encourage and uplift small and marginal farmers through the organisation of clusters and by maintaining best management practices in aquaculture.

A Judgments and Orders portal and the e-Filing 3.0 module were recently inaugurated to strengthen the country’s legal system. The portal enables users to search past judgments and orders. The e-Filing 3.0 module allows for the electronic filing of court documents.

The Judgments and Orders search portal is a repository of judgments pronounced by various High Courts in the country. It provides the facility to search judgements and final orders based on multiple search criteria. The main features of the portal are:

  • Free text search enables the user to search judgments based on keywords or a combination of multiple keywords.
  • Users can also search judgments based on bench, case type, case number, year, a petitioner or respondent’s name, a Judge’s name, act, section, disposal nature, and decision date.
  • The embedded filtering feature allows further filters on the results, ensuring a precise search.

Judge Dhananjaya Chandrachud, who inaugurated the systems, explained that the portal currently has data on about 38 million cases. The court had the data of 106 million cases that were being disposed of, which are now available.

The e-Filing 3.0 module, introduced by the e-Committee of the Supreme Court, allows for the electronic filing of court documents. With the introduction of the new module, there will be no need for lawyers or clients to visit the court premises to file a case. The filing process can take place even when the court, client, and lawyer are at three different locations. The project system was completed in six months, according to a press release.

The Secretary of the Department of Justice highlighted the various features of the e-Filing 3.0, saying that the upgraded version 3.0 is more user-friendly. It will simplify the registration of advocates on the e-filing software and enable advocates to add their partners and clients to the e-filing module. It offers readymade templates for pleadings and provisions for the online recordings of oaths. It enables case papers to be signed digitally. It provides the ability to file multiple applications apart and virtually exchanges information and case papers between advocates and courts.

The launch of the two portals reaffirms that Indian court architecture and judicial processes have been able to adapt to the fast-paced digital world. The Constitution recognises justice as one of the foremost deliverables for the people of India and the eCourts project has played a sustained role in ensuring citizen-centric justice. In recognition of the exemplary work, this project has been conferred the Excellence in Digital Governance Award in 2020 by the government.

At the event, Chandrachud noted the e-committee of the top Court is in the process of finalising its rules to allow the live streaming of court proceedings. In 2018, the Supreme Court approved in principle the concept of live-streaming important court hearings, however, it is yet to be implemented. The Gujarat High Court is the only court that live-streams its proceedings on YouTube.

Chandrachud stated that the video conferencing was initiated as a platform to answer problems of the COVID-19 pandemic – not to replace oral hearings but to ensure that courts were functional and available to those whose rights were being infringed.

Several dignitaries including Chief Justices of various High Courts, the Director-General of the National Informatics Centre, and members of the e-committee of the Supreme Court joined the event virtually.

The Indian state of Punjab is set to integrate new crime and criminal tracking networks and systems (CCTNS) following the roll-out of two data analytic tools. The systems will enable police officials in the field to analyse data in a web and mobile-based application.

A vendor has already been awarded the contract to develop the app, according to a news report. 1,100 tablets have been given to police officials in the field. Further, 1,500 mobile phones providing access to a comprehensive database have been procured.

Last year, Punjab became the first state to roll out IBM-developed Cognos, a business intelligence tool used for big data collection. The tool was provided for free by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but the states were required to purchase the hardware to make the tool functional.

Punjab Additional Director General of Police (Technical Services), Kuldeep Singh, under the Administration and Police Governance Reforms (ADGP), said that depending on the size of the state and the amount of data generated, the hardware costs more than IN 50 lakhs (US$66,912). Punjab was the first to roll out the tool, last year.

The Punjab police are also using ArcGIS, which is a big data mapping and analytics platform. The department has a fully loaded version of ArcGIS. It spent IN 3.5 crores (US$468,384) on the tool from police modernisation funds. The tool is not just about data analytics but is also used for locational intelligence. Singh also added that geo-fencing allows the department to digitally plot boundaries.

“We have done geo-fencing right up to police station level. It has been done fully in 18 districts. Geo-fencing is still in progress in big urban settlements,” he noted. “We now have last two years’ latitude and longitude-wise data of crime.” It helps identify hotspots such as road accidents. It can generate patterns of different categories of crime in any given area. For instance, if the police need to generate information on traffic needs, the tool provides comprehensive information about schools in the area. It is then able to generate traffic information by analysing peak hours while factoring in school timings.

After making the analytics tool functional, Singh noted that they are fully integrating it by creating the web and mobile app. The app will support artificial intelligence (AI), as well. Consequently, field staff will be able to access data, analyse it, and run inquiries. Mobile phones and tablets used to access the app come with a device management tool, which ensures the system is only used for official purposes.

The ADGP said the earlier CCTNS was elementary, and the broadband offered slow connectivity. “We had to tunnel our way through to access [the] internet,” he said, adding that the new system in place had upgraded connectivity based on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology, which increased the speed and offered a secure environment.

Last month, the Punjab police department launched a mobile application to find stolen and lost vehicles recovered by the police. The Punjab Police Vehicle Finder System or PP VFS addresses the problem of tracing recovered vehicles. Through it, the public will be able to find out whether their stolen vehicle has been recovered in any of the police stations across the state. There is also an advanced search system that allows a citizen to search their vehicle by uploading the make, model, and colour details.

The Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (IIT-Bombay) is offering a free online course on Java on the SWAYAM platform, which is open for anyone interested in learning the programming language. SWAYAM, which stands for Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds is a government-run open online course platform.

The spoken tutorial on Java has been funded by the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The course comprises 43 audio-video spoken tutorials by Professor Kannan Moudgalya, the Principal Investigator of Spoken Tutorial Project, IIT-Bombay.

“Calling out to the Java experts! Master the codes and concepts of this object-oriented, open-source, high-level programming language with the Java course by IIT Bombay on Swayam,” the official Twitter account of SWAYAM tweeted.

According to a news report, the course will be useful for high-school and college students. Software users, developers, working professionals, trainers, and research scholars. Anybody who stands to benefit from the technology.

Java is a technology that has various applications and is associated with benefits like strong memory allocation and an automatic garbage collection mechanism. It has powerful exception handling and type-checking mechanisms. A compiler checks the programme for any errors, and an interpreter checks any runtime errors, making the system secure from crashes.

The Java spoken tutorial available on the SWAYAM platform has been contributed jointly by TalentSprint, Hyderabad, and the Spoken Tutorial Team under IIT-Bombay. The spoken tutorial has been approved by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and can be covered in 15 weeks. Candidates who want to enrol in the course can register on the SWAYAM platform to access the spoken tutorial.

Last month, OpenGov Asia reported that IIT-Bombay announced it was establishing a Technocraft Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence (TCA2I) to grow collaborations between the industry and academia in applied AI. It focuses on research across domains. It is looking at interdisciplinary research in the application of AI in supply chains, logistics, transportation, and cybersecurity, among others.

Apart from IIT-Bombay, several public educational institutes have launched programmes focusing on digital literacy. It is estimated that India will need nine times as many digital skilled workers by 2025. The average Indian worker will need to develop seven new digital skills to keep pace with tech advancements and demand. This amounts to a total of 3.9 billion digital skill trainings from 2020 to 2025.

Recently, IIT-Madras’ Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and AI (RBCDSAI) launched a fellowship in Artificial Intelligence for Social Good. Early-career researchers or recent PhD graduates in computer science, computational and data sciences, biomedical sciences, management, finance, and other engineering branches can apply for the fellowship.

The fellowship is designed to enable outstanding candidates to establish their independent research profiles and contribute significantly to socially relevant AI research. As remuneration, the fellows will get a salary of IN15-18 lakhs (approximately US$20,000-24,000) per year, depending on the experience (equivalent to Assistant Professor’s starting salary at any IIT) for a non-renewable term of three years.

In the recently held e-symposium Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Air Warriors, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and domestic and international experts explored AI-based solutions for air combat operations.

AI has grown significantly in the commercial sector and militaries across the world are pushing to deploy advanced technologies in their war-fighting facilities. Several initiatives to automate processes to improve the efficiency of aircraft maintenance operations have been launched. The sector has already digitised parts through electronic management systems. IAF is now focusing on AI-based applications on aircraft maintenance-related projects. Currently, IAF is working on predictive maintenance and the use of AI for predictive threat scenarios.

According to a C4I (command, control, communication, computers, and intelligence) expert, information received from heterogeneous sources is fused to enhance detection capabilities and identify targets. Multi-platform and multi-sensor data fusion is key. An AI-based decision support systems (DSS) architecture must be created for complex air combat operation environments. The latest generation of fighter jets are up to 90% software-centric for target detection, categorisation, tracking, and engagement activities. A human pilot cannot process the enormous amount of high-speed data being generated by multiple sensors. Only high-end processors that are manufactured for hard real-time architecture and run on a real-time operating system (RTOS) can process this data.

The net-centric tactical ISR information, combined with the joint operations in a combat mission requires information collection and transmission among net units (like satellites and air electronic warfare). Moving real-time information across multiple systems in the loop always diminishes the `real-time’ quotient within the information, making the data stale for use. Here, AI-driven, multi-access networking, and edge computing architecture are ideal communication solutions. Free-space optical (FSO) communication, 5G, and Satcom channels of communication can achieve flexible and assured bandwidth.

AI in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is the natural extrapolation, making the drones truly autonomous. These air-launched UAVs are capable of stand-off imaging and extended range communication. UAVs are expected to improve the decision support capabilities on the edge, making the DSS systems more efficient.

The use of AI for predictive maintenance is an already evolved field commercially. AI-based predictions maximise efficiency, reduce unplanned downtime, and increase equipment reliability. Coupled with a maintenance scheduler application, it provides the ability to manage, schedule, and execute maintenance programmes for thousands of machines. It also helps a user to manage the full asset lifecycle to aid intelligent strategic planning. It is possible to provide alerts via alarms, email triggers, or SMS notifications to prompt action. Aircrafts have a well-defined, structured, and strict maintenance schedule. The Ops Logistic Concept can be effectively implemented using similar AI-based predictive maintenance techniques.

The need for unbiased data to train and test combat systems is one of the biggest challenges for IAF. Also, security aspects like smart cloud servers available in India independently to provide data confidentiality and cybersecurity in support infrastructure needs to be addressed. AI solutions in air combat and predictive maintenance are expected to change the IAF standard operating procedures in the near future.

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