Budget 2020

Start-ups give thumbs up to AI push

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on February 01, 2019 Published on February 01, 2019

The announcement in the Budget is a further push to one of the pet projects of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’   -  The HIndu

Plans on AI centre, digital villages will nurture entrepreneurship

The government’s plans to set up an Artificial Intelligence (AI) centre and one lakh digital villages could fuel entrepreneurship, which could result in more jobs but start-ups are still awaiting details on how the government will go about it.

Start-ups that BusinessLine spoke to said that the push for digitising villages is a welcome move even though they had some reservations.

Anil Joshi, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures, said that this will have multiplier effect on start-ups in segments such as edutech, fintech and e-commerce companies in addition to pushing the financial inclusion agenda.

Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc India, also lauded the government’s initiative on leveraging emerging technologies such as AI and also the expansion of rural industrialisation using digital technologies, development of clusters encompassing MSMEs, village industries and start-ups, will boost rural manufacturing.

AI seems to be the buzzword amongst most governments these days. Oxford Insights, recently came up with a “Government in AI Readiness Index” which ranked UK, ahead of other developed countries. With data being the new oil, governments are using to get citizen, economy and other types of data to make decisions.

“Our government’s focus on AI is sharpening as governments in other countries have started investing heavily in AI-led initiatives to become a data rich economy,” said Rahul Vishwakarma, CEO and Co-founder, Mate Labs.

“It will propel growth amongst start-ups thereby boosting economic growth, said Asher Ali, Director and co-founder, Winner Brands, a start-up that works with MSMEs.

Digital transactions

Another impact of this scale of digitisation could be more digital transactions and the theoretical possibility of bringing more un-banked people under the formal system, opine some fintech start-ups.

“Possibility of more digital money transactions could be on the back of low mobile and data tariffs, said Rohit Garg, Co founder and CEO, SmartCoin, a Bengaluru-based fintech start-up.

Others believe that the plans around the proposed AI centre need a lot of clarification. “Would this portal build a talent pool and where will the funding for this initiative come from,” asked Pankit Desai, co-founde,r and CEO Sequretek, a Mumbai-based cyber security start-up. Questions are also being asked on whether the government will go for a PPP model and how the mobilisation for such an initiative will take shape.

Ashish Nayyar, India MD, OakNorth, a digital banking start-up, believes that a crucial step would be to ensure both electronic and non-electronic financial data are housed with adequate protection, in the age of massive cyber breaches. With the digitisation of transactions using Aadhaar, there arises a need for real-time monitoring, evaluation and efficiency of various government schemes.

“The critical role of cyber security resilience and data protection towards fostering and inculcating trust cannot be over-emphasised,” said Deepak Maheshwari, Director - Government Affairs, India, Symantec.

Published on February 01, 2019
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