Can Indian IT companies ever win the blockchain race?

Written by Ketan Warikoo || March 15 2016

Currently Indian IT companies draw between 25-40% of their revenues from the Banking and Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector. This revenue size of about $35-45 Billion implies that Indian IT continues to draw its sustenance from the BFSI universe.

As we work towards publishing our report covering the blockchain landscape in India (to be released early April), we see a silent tsunami building up. As blockchain prepares to disrupt tech industry globally, more so in the BFSI domain; here are a few pointers why Indian IT needs to reconfigure its blockchain strategy:

1. The Indian tech industry is neither part of nor has created any consortium on blockchain technology. The success of any consortium on blockchain technology will lie in its ability to attract banking and financial services partners. R3 is a model that Indian tech industry needs to emulate. With over 40+ leading financial services institution the model already has a robust base to create, test and implement technologies related to blockchain. A consortium with multiple partners is a must have to effectively whet blockchain, especially so for the highly risk averse and regulated financial services industry.

2. There is a dearth of resources who understand and are trained to work on the design and development of blockchain architecture. In fact, skills are becoming a showstopper in India. Cryptography skills required at a huge scale are woefully lacking. Luckily, this is not a problem that Indian IT can’t fix. Working closely with technical institutions, Indian IT can quickly remedy this situation. Of course, this will require smart people from the crypto-currency world to be involved with curriculum design, planning and delivery. Indian IT needs to make investments both in-house and in academia to ensure that resources are not wanting, either in numbers or quality.

3. Indian Tech is caught in the ‘I might not be able to make the car, but I will always be able to ride the car’ mindset. A new technology is up for grabs and promises to allow whoever works hard the proverbial ‘pot of gold’. However, most companies plan to either copy, piggy ride or somehow extend, once the blockchain technology stabilizes. Very few R&D dollars are being earmarked for this technology. Interestingly, Indian IT companies continue to pump significant monies into legacy products and systems that only deliver incremental gains for BFSI industry.

4. BFSI in India is too caught up with compliance tech at the moment to be able to put their arms around blockchain or fintech. Currently, the domestic BFSI industry seems disenchanted with new technologies, opting to push for the slightly better, marginally faster and somewhat cheaper. To get on the blockchain bandwagon, Indian technology companies need to figure out partners globally, in some cases working in markets where they don’t have strong relationships. This is easier said than done as it requires breaking entrenched brand perceptions. Within the domestic market, Indian IT will need to undertake extensive awareness building and education of key IT decision makers within BFSI organizations.

Fixing these will ensure that Indian IT makes the cut as a leading player in information technology innovation, especially in the BFSI sector.

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