By Ram Rastogi
The G20 consensus on Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is a significant achievement for India, which has been a pioneer in the development of DPI. DPI has been successfully implemented in India through the Aadhaar biometric identification system, the UPI real-time payments system, and account aggregators.
Bill Gates praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for achieving “groundbreaking consensus on the role of digital public infrastructure” at the G20 Summit in pursuit of the SDGs.
Simply put, DPI refers to building blocks or platforms such as digital identification, payment infrastructure, and data exchange solutions that assist countries in providing essential services to their citizens, empowering citizens, and improving lives by enabling digital inclusion.
The India Stack, which includes the identity system Aadhaar, the payment platform UPI, and other components, is a prime example.
The G20 DPI consensus is expected to have a significant impact on DPI development and deployment around the world. It establishes a framework for countries to collaborate in order to ensure that DPI is safe, secure, trustworthy, accountable, and inclusive. This will help to accelerate the digital transformation of economies and societies, benefiting people worldwide.
DPIs are interoperable, open, and inclusive systems supported by technology that provide essential, societal-wide public and private services that play a critical role in accelerating this inclusive digital transformation.
DPI is defined in the framework as “the underlying digital platforms, networks, and services that enable the delivery of digital services to the general public.” It identifies four key DPI development and deployment principles:
- DPI should be designed to be safe and secure against cyberattacks and other threats.
- DPI should be trusted and reliable, as well as protect the privacy and security of user data.
- DPI development and deployment should be transparent to the public and subject to appropriate oversight and regulation.
- DPI should be accessible to everyone, regardless of location, income, or social status.
The three critical infrastructures in India’s public digital infrastructure
Aadhaar: Aadhaar is a biometric identification system that provides each Indian citizen with a unique identification number. It is used for many things, such as opening bank accounts, filing taxes, and receiving government benefits.
UPI: A real-time payments system that allows users to instantly transfer money between bank accounts. It is one of the most popular payment methods in India, and it has helped to reduce payment costs and time.
Account Aggregators: Account aggregators enable users to share their financial data with other organisations such as banks and financial institutions. This can help users obtain better financial products and services while also preventing fraud.
These three infrastructures demonstrate how DPI can be used to improve people’s lives. They are also examples of how India is setting the standard for DPI development.
Aside from the three key infrastructures, India is also working on other DPI initiatives:
- Digital health infrastructure: This will allow for the secure and private collection, storage, and sharing of health data.
- Digital education infrastructure: This will ensure that everyone, regardless of location or socioeconomic status, has access to high-quality education.
- Climate action digital infrastructure: This will aid in monitoring and mitigating the effects of climate change.
These initiatives are part of India’s Digital India vision, which seeks to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The G20 DPI Consensus is a significant step forward in this vision, and it is expected to have a significant impact on DPI development and deployment globally.
World Bank applauds India’s DPI
The World Bank has praised India’s DPI for achieving an astounding 80% financial inclusion rate in just six years in the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) report. According to the report, it would have taken nearly five decades to achieve this level of financial inclusion through traditional means.
“A lack of adequate safeguards, sustained financing, and technical assistance can result in poorly developed DPI,” the outcome document emphasises in a carefully worded paragraph. This, in turn, could lead to “data breaches and privacy violations, improper and unlimited access to personal data, violations of intellectual property rights, and security risks.”
How can these dangers be mitigated? All G20 negotiators, regardless of jurisdiction, keep asking this question. It necessitates a response. In some ways, it will determine the future of global DPI initiatives.