The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has announced it is working with cybersecurity firm WISeKey to store citizens data on a blockchain securely.
Andhra Pradesh, bordering India’s southeastern coast, is the seventh largest state in the country. In an announcement, Swiss-based WISeKey and Andhra Pradesh will explore blockchain technology proof-of-concepts as pilot projects across a variety of departments.
The aim is to simplify processes and to enhance security in light of cybersecurity attacks worldwide. Earlier this year, malicious malware known as WannaCry crippled over 75,000 computers in 150 countries. It was the most audacious cyberattack to take place. According to Microsoft, it was a ‘wake-up call’ for governments to take action to prevent these attacks from happening. Shortly, thereafter, the NotPetya cyberattack targeted vulnerable computers around the world. Many victims were ordered to pay bitcoin ransom demands to receive access to their files.
In an attempt to take decisive steps, the government in Andhra Pradesh is taking measures to better protect citizen data. With a population of 88 million people there is a wealth of information that needs to be stored securely. To ensure this, it is teaming up with WISeKey to keep its various databases secure.
Carlos Moreira, founder and CEO of WISeKey, said:
“To have a pristine vision like putting the citizen at the center of gravity, and building all the infrastructure around this vision is the key to successfully empower citizens to unleash their full potential.”
JA Chowdary, special chief secretary & IT advisor to the chief minister of the government of Andhra Pradesh, said:
“We are looking towards WISeKey to play a leadership role in providing cybersecurity for the various initiatives of the government, but also drawing out the vision for smart cities who want to go beyond IoT, automation and use “Deep Tech” algorithmic technology.”
While N. Balasubramanyam, CEO and e-pragathi & transport commissioner for the government of Andhra Pradesh, added:
“Andhra Pradesh will be one of the first states in the world which will be implementing the blockchain technology in the transportation department.”
Andhra Pradesh to Record Land Deals on the Blockchain
In August, it was reported that the state of Andhra Pradesh was exploring the distributed ledger to record land deals. A second Indian state, Telangana, is also considering it too. The aim is to provide transparency to a corrupt system that leaves the poor at risk.
Most land ownership in India dates back to the colonial era. As such, knowing who owns what is fraught with difficulties. As a result, many people, particularly the poor, are left vulnerable with disputes ending up in court.
However, the use of the blockchain could provide better transparency for all concerned.
Vishal Batra at IBM Research, who works on the technology, said:
“The land registry is a good candidate for blockchain as there is no way to verify titles quickly. The process lends itself to fraud, as an owner can re-sell a property, and the buyer is ignorant. With blockchain there would be savings and efficiency, and there can be no fraud.”
Once a sale has been recorded on the blockchain, land owners, banks, sellers and brokers can track the record. This, in turn, gives everyone peace of mind that everything is above board.
“We are already digitising all land records, so this can be the next step.”
McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the global consulting firm, states that India’s land markets are hindering the country from producing more growth. Consequently, lost gross domestic product growth each year accounts for 1.3 percent.
Indian State to Secure Ration Cards with the Blockchain
These latest steps by Andhra Pradesh are not its first venture into the blockchain. In fact, its first steps can be traced back to 2016.
As early as then it was looking into the technology to fight cybercrime. As a result, it became the first state in Asia to implement the blockchain to provide cybersecurity and curb hacking.
This is significant considering the state’s government looks after a datebase of 103 million ration cards. N. Sambhasiva Rao, the director general of police in India, said at the time:
“Now the government has been encouraging to increase cashless and digital transactions from the present 10 percent to 50 percent.”
Ripple Opens New Office in India
Fintech payments firm Ripple has opened a new office in India’s business capital, Mumbai.
It’s hoped that the company will be capable of providing more customers with a faster settlement of international payments.
India has a population of 1.3 billion people. This expansion into India provides Ripple with a wealth of opportunities. Namely, because the country is the largest remittance receiver in the world. Ripple’s main objective is to get banks more attuned to the blockchain as a way of delivering faster payments.
For those sending money to India they may soon find themselves turning to Ripple’s services.
Navin Gupta, who has been appointed Country Manager for Ripple India, said:
“India is the largest recipient of corporate and retail remittances worldwide, totalling close to $71 billion. The businesses and Indian expatriates sending money into the country want their cross-border payments to be as fast and seamless as payments made within India’s domestic digital payment network.”
“Ripple’s instant, cost-effective blockchain-powered payments can be a transformative component of India’s economy, helping bring the many who have limited access to payment services into the fold.”
It remains to be seen what success this will bring to Ripple. Yet, considering India receives the most remittance payments in the world, the firm may see an uptick is users.
Turning to a Cashless Society
Over the last few years, India has been taking significant steps to embrace a digital agenda. What has helped to push the country forward was the removal of its two biggest banknotes: the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
Last November, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, ordered their removal. As such around 90 percent of the nation’s currency was wiped out overnight. The aim was to prevent terrorism, corruption and black market money.
While it was no doubt a drastic move for the country, it has aided its journey toward a digital society.
Featured image from Shutterstock.