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How India is driving tech developments at G20

India’s G20 presidency marks an important stride towards establishing a global regulatory framework for the crypto industry, among other tech developments discussed at the global forum in New Delhi this year

India recently hosted the 18th G20 Summit, and corralled all the world’s top leaders under one roof. What was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors to discuss global economic and financial issues is now held annually as a summit with a broader purpose. It galvanises global political chieftains to mull over crucial macroeconomic issues, including trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change and anti-corruption.

This year, a lot transpired in New Delhi, particularly with the unfolding of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor that drives collaboration among the US, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union. 

While there were no major technology-related announcements, a lot of indirect spillovers can be found in discussions on artificial intelligence (AI) and crypto regulations, taking a human-centric approach to technology, digitisation of trade documents and tech-enabled development of agriculture and education.

As a run-up, there were recommendations and policy actions for the business sector, including the Startup20 initiative to support startup companies and the focus on digital public infrastructure (DPI). The summit had also cast the spotlight on climate change commitments, clean energy, and sustainability development goals.

Pradeep Gupta, founder of think tank Security and Policy Initiatives, noted that the emphasis on climate change initiatives at G20 would require IT to play a role in areas like equipment, data management and analytics. “Carbon credits cannot function without good AI and data technology in place,” he said. “DPI will also be a big lever for the industry.”

V K Sridhar, an assistant professor at the department of mechanical engineering at Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management in Hyderabad, agreed that IT will be instrumental in driving all the climate change agreements that emerged at this G20 – both from a technology and administrative point of view. “Collective efforts are critical in this area,” he said.

Another big ripple from G20 is in AI. Devroop Dhar, co-founder and managing director of Primus Partners, a consulting firm, pointed out the potential of AI in building DPIs. “India has built various DPIs focused on areas such as health, education and identity management, and has the potential of taking these solutions to other countries, especially to the Global South.”

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To Sachin Panicker, chief AI officer at Fulcrum Digital, a technology consultancy, the most significant takeaway was the collective acknowledgment of the paradigm-shifting potential of generative AI. “Prime minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to establish a comprehensive framework for responsible, human-centric AI governance resonates deeply with the technical community, emphasising the critical need for ethical AI deployment.”

And while doing so, countries will have to balance the need to regulate AI and spur the technology’s future development. “There is a general understanding that while some form of regulation is needed, it should not throttle innovation,” said Dhar.

“The regulation should facilitate movement towards ethical and safe use of AI and help mitigate the challenges around bias, data models, deep fakes and intellectual property. All of these need a global approach with a common framework and guiding principles being followed and countries learning from each other.”

Efforts to bridge data gaps and gain insights on the use of digital assets for payments was another significant development, said Rahul Pagidipati, CEO of ZebPay, adding that it will enable policymakers to adopt an informed and analytical perspective when formulating regulations.

Impact on crypto and telcos

Pagidipati noted that India’s G20 presidency marked an important stride towards establishing a cohesive global regulatory framework for the crypto industry, adding that the initiation of crypto-specific discussions at the international level underscores the country’s dedication to nurturing a secure and innovative digital economy.

Richard Teng, head of regional markets at Binance, welcomed the crypto policy roadmap presented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), in collaboration with various international organisations and standard-setting bodies.

He acknowledged the recent developments at the G20 meeting where member nations called for the swift implementation of the Crypto-Asset Reporting Framework (CARF) and amendments to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), emphasising the importance of implementing a reporting framework for crypto assets. “This marks a significant step forward in the global regulatory landscape for crypto and the overall Web3 industry under India’s G20 leadership,” said Teng.

Also, as noted by Mahendra Nahata, managing director of network equipment supplier HFCL, the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Bharat 6G Alliance and the Next G Alliance, operated by the Alliance of Telecommunications Industry Solutions, is a first step towards deepening public-private cooperation between telecoms suppliers and operators.

Execution is key

While progress has been made at this year’s G20, Gupta called for countries to work together to implement what has been decided. “We must carry it forward in execution till we reach the next table in Brazil,” he said.

The next G20 Summit will be held in Rio de Janeiro in November 2024.

Biswajit Maity, principal analyst at Gartner, said the global collaboration during the G20 summit benefits the Indian IT sector in a number of ways, including increased market opportunities, fostering shared technological insights, and attracting greater foreign funding.

“In addition to strengthening India’s IT standing in the global market, such synergies also contribute to the development of innovative solutions to shared challenges,” he said. “In addition, it will aid regional IT companies in facilitating their global expansion. While we see the intention and substance are evident, successful execution is going to be key.”

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