Blockchain protocol Algorand (ALGO) has entered the world’s most populous country, India, with a project that aims to support the nation’s transformation from the back office of the Web2 world to the innovation hub of the Web3 world, two senior representatives told CoinDesk. Millions of Indians take on outsourced work from Silicon Valley companies and global banks.
Launched on Wednesday, AlgoBharat won’t have a registered entity in India but will see a dedicated team focus on real world utility for blockchain in India with relevance for the rest of the world, the representatives said. The word Bharat represents the nation of India.
“India was effectively the back office of Web2, right? The innovation might have been led somewhere else,” said Anil Kakani, the India country head at the Algorand Foundation. “Blockchain use cases that have the greatest real world utility are happening here in India.”
For the past several weeks, Kakani and Nikhil Varma, the tech lead for AlgoBharat have been traversing the nation’s engineering universities and blockchain friendly states but have stayed clear of the rule makers.
“We will certainly engage with regulators this year,” said Kakani, who was a senior adviser for India at the U.S. Treasury. “We have been understanding the appetite for Web3 here. When we do talk to regulators, we will come with the track record of working with the National Bank of Italy and the Marshall Islands CBDC project.”
India’s position on crypto has gone from the central bank trying to ban the industry’s access to financial services to a stiff tax regimen in 2022. Currently, India is pushing for global consensus on rules for crypto assets as the President of the Group of 20 nations (G-20), while also asking the Web3 and blockchain industry to decouple itself from crypto.
“We think the regulatory framework that's beginning to get laid out in India makes a lot of sense,” Varma said. "Bringing India’s Web3 companies under the prevention-of-money-laundering rules for clarity with [know-your-customer] and [anti-money laundering] laws is a sign of institutionalizing the space and we think it's positive.”
Algorand’s India plan is broken up into three pillars – broaden the Web3 developer base through education and events at universities, focus on startups that are transitioning from Web2 to Web3 and focus on high-profile use case partnerships with the central and state governments.
“These partnerships with governments and ministries are already happening,” said Kakani. “They have hundreds of thousands if not millions of users and we want to handhold their transition to address key bottlenecks in their systems from a Web2 to a Web3 solution.”
So far Algorand has partnered with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) to support women-led enterprises building blockchain solutions, with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University and the Indian School of Business to launch faculty development programs, and with T-Hub, a prominent innovation hub, as its first blockchain partner to support startups.
MAPay, a global healthcare technology firm has partnered with the state of Maharashtra in India to create 100 million NFTs built on Algorand that will store personal health data.
CORRECTION (April 6, 2023, 17:15 UTC): Reflects that Algorand did not announce a partnership with the state of Maharashtra.
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