Bill Gates appreciates India’s digital finance approach, hails it as a global model

As reported by Bloomberg, Tech pioneer Bill Gates has appreciated India’s policies for financial innovation and inclusion, further informing that his philanthropic foundation is collaborating with other countries to introduce open-source technologies modelled on the country’s implementation.

India has erected ambitious platforms for universal identification and digital payments, including the world’s largest biometric database and a system for sending rupees between any bank or smartphone app. Gates said those policies have drastically reduced the cost and friction of distributing aid to the poor, especially during the pandemic.


“If people are going to study one country right now, other than China, I’d say they should look at India,” Gates said at the Singapore Fintech Festival on Tuesday. “Things are really exploding there and innovation around that system is phenomenal.”

Indian digital payments really boomed after the government pushed demonetization in 2016, invalidating most of the country’s high-value bank notes in a move to curb corruption and veer Indians towards digital transactions. The Unified Payments Interface, or UPI, has been aided by increasing smartphone use and wireless data rates that are among the lowest in the world. India mandates that companies use its UPI platform so payments can be sent easily among all services, including those from Facebook Inc., Inc., Walmart Inc., Paytm and any new upstart. Zero user fees are also required.

“India is a great example,” the co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said during the virtual conference. His organization is now helping some countries that don’t have established standards to roll out similar systems based on open-source technologies, he added.

“Digital things overall — remote learning, telemedicine, digital finance — were greatly advanced,” he said. “So even though the pandemic has been terrible, it has pushed some of these innovations, including how quickly we make vaccines.”

But Gates warned that addressing the virus has to be done in an equitable way — rich countries shouldn’t get the power to control who gets access to vaccines. That’s why his foundation is working with global manufacturers, including the Serum Institute in India, to make sure there are sufficient dosage numbers at reasonable prices. He said he expects vaccines to put stop the spread of the Coronavirus in 2022, though he warned against complacency. “We can’t forget that another pandemic will come, so we need to invest and be ready,” he said.