India Blockchain Alliance (IBA) was founded in 2018 by Raj Kapoor – an advisory board member at more than 50 blockchain companies – on the idea that the technology could help improve the financial, social and governance systems in the world’s most to reshape and make a populated nation better. decentralized, open and fair.
While the Indian government has warned of risks in cryptocurrency trading, it has shown support for blockchain technology, as have several states in India. The state of Pune is adopting blockchain to record real estate transactions to reduce fraud. Police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh have set up a blockchain-based online portal to ensure that complaints filed cannot be manipulated or deleted.
Said to be working with startups and hundreds of colleges across India, the IBA is also a partner of the Nordic Blockchain Association and the FinTech Association of Sri Lanka.
In an interview with ForkPradipta Mukherjee, Kapoor, who is also IBA’s chief executive officer, discussed the state of blockchain-based projects in India.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
Pradipta Mukherjee: The IBA has now been in existence for five years. Tell us about your journey and the impact IBA wants to make in India?
Raj Kapoor: When we started in 2018 and we talked about blockchain, everyone only asked about Bitcoin. They equated blockchain with Bitcoin and vice versa. One of the main reasons I founded this organization was to help people understand the impact of the technology and not necessarily crypto or Bitcoin. I also believe that India has the power to leverage this technology because we have the right resources, but we don’t have the direction.
My two co-founders and myself started with the education system first. We started making programs for universities, colleges and institutions. Today, we partner with more than 250 universities and colleges across the country. We have established centers of excellence. We teach blockchain at different levels depending on the type of university or institution.
We guide many startups. We work a lot with the government to advise them on what blockchain interventions can be for policies, standards, [and] frames.
Mukherjee: What is the future of blockchain in India?
Kapoor: Every blockchain has some form of tokenization or a reward system. Entire asset classes will be tokenized. Today we have real estate, bonds and we can tokenize any asset, including green carbon credits. The next five to ten years will see a major shift from the way things are now to becoming tokenized and therefore accessible to most. Those tokens have nothing to do with crypto.
I am involved in more than 50 local projects and another 70 or 80 abroad. Those are all blockchain projects that have nothing to do with crypto. What we do promote is the adoption of blockchain, distributed ledger technology and everything that goes with it, such as the metaverse, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), DeFi (decentralized finance) and Web3.
Mukherjee: Can you tell us about the blockchain projects you are working on in India?
Kapoor: For a number of universities in India, we put certificates on the blockchain so that it is easy for anyone around the world to verify an individual’s degree. IBA has no technical team to make it. We design the architecture, solution and way forward, then work with implementation partners to complete the initiative.
We are working on a private healthcare project where we put all medical records on the blockchain, which can be accessed by all hospitals across India. We have hospitals, physiotherapists, drugstores, all in the ecosystem.
We are also creating a complete human resource system on blockchain that enables verifications of the authenticity of resumes submitted by potential employees.
Another pilot project we’re doing in India is for women who are experiencing sexual harassment, be it in public, at work, even at home and within families. Many female victims don’t know where to go, so we created a blockchain-based app where women can report anonymously. The project is in beta, but we already have over 140,000 women on the platform, which is surprising.
With the Goa government, I am doing many projects on the blockchain, mainly putting all land records on the blockchain. After Goa gained independence, one of the main problems was the lack of land records and there were many instances of duplication.
Mukherjee: What are the shortcomings you face when working on these projects in India?
Kapoor: The first is blockchain interoperability. The interconnectivity is not cheap and it is not guaranteed.
The second is the number of transactions per second. For example, if suddenly 100,000 people log in within minutes of each other, the process slows down.
The third is lack of awareness. Once the public is aware of the benefits of blockchain, adoption will be better. Right now, adoption is flawed to say the least.
The fourth is security concerns. Now, when there’s interoperability, it’s through a bridge. This bridge has vulnerabilities that are not recognized by most Indian companies. Therefore, security, interoperability, transaction speed and awareness are the main issues.
Mukherjee: There was talk of remote voting in polls using blockchain. Has that taken off in India?
Kapoor: A pilot program is underway in Telangana [in south India]. It’s great for people who are out of state and want to vote, or the elderly who don’t want to queue at voting booths. What we haven’t fully identified are the security plugs so that we have a sacredly secure system.
Mukherjee: Where do you see India’s central bank (CBDC) digital currency adoption going?
Kapoor: We talk about CBDC [but] are we ready for CBDC? Are the banks CBDC ready? The awareness of CBDC in the banking sector is abysmal.
We need to prepare our financial system for it. The backward integration has to be done and first the awareness has to be built within the banking system.
I believe CBDC is great for business-to-business, but it’s adoption that will take time. If there are many other options, one might not go for a CBDC. So people’s fears must first be allayed and explained that this is a better system. But it is very difficult to change people’s mindset, especially in India where companies are very traditional. It should be in a distributed process of awareness, benefits, benefits, transparency and trust. It’s a lengthy process.