Open protocols are crucial for a country's digital empowerment and India's diversity and size calls for it. The more we decentralise through such protocols, the more opportunities we create for new platforms to emerge and thrive, Dr. Pramod Varma, co-founder of beckn.org, said at IAMAI’s India Digital Summit 2022. The Indian government has been working on rolling out the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a digital project announced in 2020 to develop an open UPI-like architecture for the e-commerce industry. But very little is known about what role such a network will play and why we need it. Varma sheds more light on these questions. What makes up a country's public digital infrastructure? Varma explained that the essence of the larger digital infrastructure, as well as digital empowerment story, distills down to three layers: Digital identities: This foundational layer allows people and entities to say who they are, which is key to being able to participate in any digital transaction, Varma said. Aadhaar, PAN, GST are examples of this layer, Varma added. Digital assets and credentials: Assets: People accrue digital assets such as money in the bank or property records. Add data to this, which Indians are accruing at a fast rate because there are more than 500 million people active on the Internet who are leaving behind a digital footprint as they interact with various platforms, Varma explained. Credentials: Another form of asset that forms the second layer is credentials or certificates. For people with a college degree or working for a big company,…
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