I believe in blockchain tech and this is different from crypto: Ambani

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Bil­lion­aire on Fri­day backed the pro­posed data pri­va­cy and bills, say­ing India is putting in place the most for­ward-look­ing poli­cies and regulations.

Ambani, who has been a votary of Indi­ans own­ing and con­trol­ling their own data and the nation draft­ing strict rules around how dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion is stored and shared, said nations have the right to build and pro­tect strate­gic dig­i­tal infrastructure.

Stat­ing that data is the ‘new oil’, he said every cit­i­zen’s right to pri­va­cy has to be safeguarded.

“India is putting in place the most for­ward-look­ing poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions,” he said at the InFin­i­ty Forum, host­ed by Inter­na­tion­al Finan­cial Ser­vices Cen­tres Author­i­ty (IFSCA).

The coun­try, he said, already has a great frame­work of dig­i­tal iden­ti­ty through Aad­haar, dig­i­tal bank accounts and dig­i­tal payments.

“We are on the verge of intro­duc­ing data pri­va­cy bill, and the bill. I think we are on the right track,” he said.

The com­ments came as the gov­ern­ment looks to bring a new bill in Par­lia­ment to treat cryp­tocur­ren­cies as a finan­cial asset while safe­guard­ing small investors. The leg­is­la­tion may stip­u­late a min­i­mum amount for invest­ments in dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies while ban­ning their use as legal tender.

The leg­isla­tive agen­da for the cur­rent win­ter ses­sion of Par­lia­ment that start­ed on Novem­ber 29 lists bring­ing of a bill that seeks to pro­hib­it all pri­vate cryp­tocur­ren­cies except “cer­tain excep­tions to pro­mote the under­ly­ing tech­nol­o­gy of and its uses.”

While the gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing tax­ing gains from cryp­tocur­ren­cy, the Reserve Bank of India wants a com­plete ban on dig­i­tal cur­ren­cies as it feels this could affect the nation’s macro­eco­nom­ic and finan­cial stability.

“Data and dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture is strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant for India and every oth­er nation in the world. Every coun­try has the right to build and pro­tect this strate­gic dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture,” he said adding a uni­form glob­al stan­dard was need­ed so that cross-bor­der trans­ac­tions, col­lab­o­ra­tions and part­ner­ships are not hampered.

Stat­ing that every cit­i­zen’s right to pri­va­cy has to be safe­guard­ed, he said the right poli­cies and the right reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work have to bal­ance this with the nation’s need to guard data and dig­i­tal infrastructure.

Ambani, chair­man and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Reliance Indus­tries Ltd, said that he was a big believ­er in tech­nol­o­gy.

“I believe in tech­nol­o­gy and this is dif­fer­ent from cryp­tocur­ren­cy,” he said, adding, “is very impor­tant for a trust-based, equi­table society.”

While the bill for reg­u­lat­ing cryp­tocur­ren­cy is in the works, RBI Gov­er­nor Shak­tikan­ta Das is among those who feel that the blockchain tech­nol­o­gy under­pin­ning cryp­tocur­ren­cies could exist on its own, even with­out the currency. 

“Using blockchain, we can deliv­er unprece­dent­ed secu­ri­ty, trust, automa­tion and effi­cien­cy to almost any type of trans­ac­tion,” Ambani said. “It can be used to mod­ern­ize our sup­ply chains that form the lifeblood of our economies.”

India is now well on its way to trans­form­ing itself into a lead­ing Dig­i­tal Soci­ety, hav­ing put the dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture, and the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work in place.

“Data is indeed the ‘new oil’. But the new oil is fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from the tra­di­tion­al oil. Tra­di­tion­al oil was extract­ed only at select places thus, it cre­at­ed wealth only for some coun­tries. In con­trast, the new oil — that is Data — can be gen­er­at­ed and con­sumed every­where and by every­body. It has the poten­tial to cre­ate val­ue equi­tably, across sec­tors, across geo­gra­phies, across eco­nom­ic class­es,” he said.

His com­ments come against the back­drop of a debate on how India should bal­ance user pro­tec­tions with sup­port for its dig­i­tal econ­o­my in the world’s fastest-grow­ing major inter­net mar­ket. For­eign com­pa­nies and hun­dreds of home-grown star­tups have flour­ished amid a dearth of regulation.

Amban­i’s Jio has super­charged inter­net adop­tion, help­ing crash data prices since launch in 2016, and his group has now cre­at­ed an online-to-offline retail plat­form take on the likes of Ama­zon and Wal­mart-backed Flip­kart, which are both bet­ting big on Indi­a’s e‑commerce market.

The coun­try, he said, is tran­si­tion­ing ful­ly from 2G to 4G. “We are in the process of cre­at­ing an equal­ly afford­able ecosys­tem of devices to enable greater adop­tion, sup­port­ed by a faster roll­out of opti­cal fiber, cloud, and data cen­ter infrastructure.

“The next step will be the con­nec­tiv­i­ty of machines, devices and vehi­cles, which is the Inter­net of Things. With 5G roll­out next year in India, we are on our way to hav­ing one of the most advanced dig­i­tal infra­struc­tures any­where in the world.”

Ambani said India is well on its way to trans­form­ing itself into a lead­ing Dig­i­tal Soci­ety, hav­ing put the dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture, and the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work in place.

“Finance is at the heart of every­thing, and I believe we are in very ear­ly stages of spo­radic dig­i­ti­za­tion, and with var­i­ous new-age tech­nolo­gies emerg­ing, the oppor­tu­ni­ty is in adopt­ing a decen­tralised mod­el of finance,” he said.

There will be cen­tralised gov­ern­ment and cen­tral bank poli­cies, but there will be a path to decen­tral­ized tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions where finance will be enabled and avail­able to every­body, Ambani said.

Real-time tech­nolo­gies will help set­tle trades, not in days or hours, but in real-time. Smart con­tracts will become a reality.

“Con­ver­gence of real-time tech­nolo­gies, dis­trib­uted ledger, blockchain, smart tokens etc with phys­i­cal infra­struc­ture using IoT will rede­fine the decen­tral­ized financ­ing sec­tor in a way that we have nev­er imag­ined,” he added.

(Only the head­line and pic­ture of this report may have been reworked by the Busi­ness Stan­dard staff; the rest of the con­tent is auto-gen­er­at­ed from a syn­di­cat­ed feed.)

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