India has the world's greatest startup environment, with fintech being the most popular area, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. Fintech firms account for one out of every four startups and are increasingly becoming unicorns, or companies valued at more than USD 1 billion, she said.
Sitharaman was speaking at a high-level panel discussion with Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on "Money at a Crossroad." "If I may put it this way, one out of every four businesses is in the fintech area, and they are gradually becoming unicorns; likewise, 20 fintech unicorns have emerged in the last 2-3 years," She said. During this conversation, the Finance Minister also stated that India's digital adoption rate in 2019 was 85 percent.
"According to 2019 data, India's digital adoption rate is around 85%." However, it was only around 64% internationally in the same year. So, during the pandemic, we were able to test and prove that it is simple to use, that ordinary people can use it, and that adoption is truly proved," she stated during the discussion.
She went on to say that over the last decade, the government has worked to develop a digital infrastructure framework, emphasising the rise in digital usage in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Over the last decade, we've invested a lot of time as a government trying to establish the digital infrastructure framework within which we've ensured data security, data privacy features, and also created the India stack," said the Finance Minister.
She highlighted that the India stack is a "indigenously produced technology-driven enabler" for digital breakthroughs such as the open API platform, AADHAAR, and UPI, among others, and that the private sector has stepped in to ensure that it is used for the greater benefit.