On Friday, Billionaire Mukesh Ambani backed the proposed data privacy and cryptocurrency bills, and further said India is putting in place the most forward-looking policies and regulations.
Ambani has been a votary of Indians owning and controlling their own data and the country drafting important rules around how digital information is stored and shared, now he has said that nations have the right to build and protect strategic digital infrastructure.
As he stated data as the ‘new oil’, he further said every citizen’s right to privacy has to be guarded safely.
“India is putting in place the most forward-looking policies and regulations,” he said at the Infinity Forum, which was hosted by International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
He said that the nation already has a great framework of digital identity, through Aadhaar, digital bank accounts and other types of digital payments.
“We are on the verge of introducing the data privacy bill, and the cryptocurrency bill. I think we are on the right track,” he said.
The statements came as the government seems to bring a new bill in Parliament to treat cryptocurrencies as a financial asset as well as safeguarding small investors. The legislation may stipulate a minimum amount for investments in digital currencies as they ban their use as legal tender.
The legislative agenda for the ongoing winter session of Parliament that started on November 29 lists bringing of a bill that seems to ban all private cryptocurrencies except “certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.”
While the government is considering taxing gains from cryptocurrency, the Reserve Bank of India wants a complete ban on digital currencies, feeling that it 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.
Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd, states that he was a big believer in blockchain technology. “I believe in blockchain technology and this is different from cryptocurrency,” he said, adding, “Blockchain is very important for a trust-based, equitable society.”
“Using blockchain, we can deliver unprecedented security, trust, automation and efficiency to almost any type of transaction,” Ambani further 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 statements come against the backdrop of a debate based on how India should balance user protections with support for its digital economy in the world’s fastest-growing major internet market, as foreign companies and hundreds of home-grown startups have flourished amid a dearth of regulation.
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 centre infrastructure.”
“The next step will be the connectivity of machines, devices and vehicles, which is the Internet of Things. With the 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. “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.
Ambani said that real-time technologies will help settle trades, not in days or hours, but in real-time, and 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.