Vizag Can Be Future Hub Of Global Fintechs

FinTech Valley in Vizag is a self-sustainable global FinTech ecosystem that focuses on converging finance and technology to create large avenues of growth through industry enablers, world-class infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation. J A Chowdary– Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to the Chief Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh, shares his thoughts with Manish Arora of BW Smartcities


Please share with us a brief about the vision behind creating FinTech Valley?

India is now on the cusp of a new epoch in financial services; which is taking shape concurrently with the fourth industrial revolution – defined by the convergence of the physical and cybernetic worlds, and digital technologies.

Digital revolution is transforming the behavior of customers and access to financial products and services. These factors are defining financial technologies – formed at the intersection of financial services and technology sectors. The Indian fintech software market is forecast to touch $2.4 billion by 2020 from a current $1.2 billion, as per NASSCOM. Hence, it is encouraging that technology-focused startups and new market entrants are formulating innovative solutions that would enable the traditional financial services industry to evolve rapidly. Fintech is disrupting the traditional value chain of financial institutions and economies across the world.

To support and leverage this momentum, and in a bid to transform the commercial capital of Andhra Pradesh, Vishakhapatnam, into a national and global hub for financial technology, the government of the state, under the leadership of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, is building a complete ecosystem including startup entrepreneurs, innovators, incubators, investors and academia in Fintech Valley, Vizag.

The initiative can create 5 lakh jobs in the state by 2020 through technology-enabled services for bringing new age ideas. Fintech Valley has made it easier, faster and cheaper to do business as it aspires to be an industry enabler for fintech around the world by bringing all the global players at one place.

How is Fintech Valley different from other incubation centers?

Fintech Valley in Vizag is a self-sustainable global fintech ecosystem that focuses on converging finance and technology to create large avenues of growth through industry-enablers, world-class infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation. Global financial services companies, government and academia come together in this valley to build capacity, infrastructure, market access, connectivity, funding channels, and incentive mechanisms to achieve unmatched business goals and successes. It provides more than just access to fintech technologies and innovators; enables an oasis in which cyber security, blockchain, digital education and research thrive, using state of the art incubators and accelerators, innovation labs, expertise and mentoring, along with institutes that provide every individual and business with a unique set of opportunities to grow.

Corporates too, are granted avenues as business disrupters in Fintech Valley through creation of networks with the government and private players for building capabilities, Center of Excellence (COE), investment opportunities and mentorship programmes.

To set a stage for financial and technological inclusion, the state government is facilitating access to free infrastructure for six months, free high speed internet connectivity, and preferential market access to facilitate POCs of the startups. Additionally, the funds of funds strategy will be implemented soon.

How do you plan to attract investments from other countries like UAE, Europe and US?

Andhra Government intends to collaborate with global and Indian leaders who share their vision of being pioneers in building a strong, all encompassing fintech ecosystem. An advisory council consisting of global and Indian thought leaders from the fintech sector will soon be headed by the Chief Minister to handle funds and map out intricacies of the Fintech Valley. The partners are provided advisory services, assistance in setting up manufacturing facilities, infrastructure development, assistance in R&D and support for implementation of mutually beneficial projects by the state government.

The sustainable ecosystem offers human capacity from several technical universities and colleges that host incubation centers and R&D facilities. With government intervention, corporations have the opportunity to influence quality of future employees by advising institutions in areas of fintech, creating syllabi at various levels and developing networks of information sharing and that are aimed to benefit multiple channels in the industry.

Fintech Valley is further accessible by the international community through efforts of the state to develop policies and regulations that will encourage growth through incentives. The state is already number one in terms of ease of doing business. By committing to improve the investment environment in the state, the state government is offering various business avenues and entry points to global investors from the UAE, Europe and the US.

Please throw some light on MoU with the Monetary Authority of Singapore?

he Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and GoAP signed an MOU on 22th October, 2016, agreeing to collaborate on the development of educational programmes relating to fintech in their respective jurisdictions. Under the MoU, the two parties aim to collaborate to nurture fintech startups and facilitate their growth. The primary mechanism for this objective would be through the development and support of COE in Vishakhapatnam that have been set up by the GoAP. The COE would house both Indian and Singaporean fintech startups. It would facilitate the provision of manpower and resource support to encourage an environment favorable for these start-ups to scale up their product development and custodian activities. Both parties would also assist in the creation of a marketplace for fintech solutions and the promotion of such solutions to banks, governments and other relevant audiences as per their terms of agreement.

MAS and GoAP share a mutual desire to promote innovation in financial services in their respective markets. Through cooperation and resource sharing on innovations connected to financial services, the two parties aim to work towards identifying and executing potential joint innovation projects on the application of key technologies such as digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distributed ledgers, big data, flexible platforms and other areas of new technologies.

Please share with us if company is planning any other partnership?

Two new MOUs are to be signed by GoAP in the coming week with Visa, the American multinational financial services corporation and Thomson Reuters, the global mass media and information firm on February 22 in Mumbai.

How has been the response of start-ups towards this Fintech Valley?

In a month since its inauguration in Vizag, the newly developed Fintech Tower is already housing disruptive start-ups, with over 200 people currently working in Fintech Tower like Paytm, Broadridge, Transaction Analyst, GMS, Value Labs, BlockTrust, Knolskape and many others. In addition to start ups, GoAP has also partnered with 6 educational institutions that include Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management University, Noble Institute Of Technology, Anantha Lakshmi Institute of Science and Technology, Lankapalli Bullayya College, Gayatri Vidya Parishad and PVKK Institute of Technology. As a part of the MOU terms, these institutions have agreed to partner with GoAP in setting up the COE and to enable fintech ecosystem skill building.

This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated '' with cover story titled 'Cities On the Move'

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