Google to partner with Indian government for digital payments security alliance

Ramarko Sengupta March 23, 2017

Google India will partner with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) and collaborate with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) for a ‘Digital Payments Security Alliance’, the internet giant’s Vice President, SouthEast Asia & India, Rajan Anandan, announced on Thursday.

The initiative assumes great importance as the Indian government tries to move towards a digital and cashless economy. In fact, the Narendra Modi-led government had reached out to Google CEO Sundar Pichai during his last visit to the country in January this year, for a collaboration on digital security. Telecom, IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also publicly appealed to Google to work with India on digital security during the same visit.

In the recent past, a number of hacks and debit/credit card breaches have exposed the chinks in the system, pushing the government to armour up and take measures on the digital security front.

According to a joint study that was carried out by Google and Boston Consulting Group, the digital payments industry in India will grow to $500 billion by 2020. However, since the research was carried out before the Indian government’s demonetisation move that outlawed old notes of 500 and 1,000 denominations, it is likely to reach that figure much earlier, Anandan conceded.

Currently, the ‘Digital Payments Security Alliance’ initiative is in planning stages and Google will start launching programs soon, Anandan said. The alliance will bring together several stakeholders from the ecosystem including banks, fintech companies and the government. Google will also spearhead a campaign to create community awareness on safe and secure practices, as users adopt digital/ mobile payments.

The initiative will act as a confidence building measure as the government tries to bring a behavioural change in the way India transacts, India’s IT secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. “Unless people are convinced digital transactions are safe and secure, the behavioural change won’t come,” she said.

India currently has 400 million internet users, which makes it the country with the second largest user base after China. The country has 300 million smartphone users.