The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Google India have come together to boost the security of India's fast growing digital payments ecosystem at a time when data breaches and fraudulent transactions are becoming more commonplace in the country.
The partnership will support the formation of a 'Digital Payments Security Alliance' in collaboration with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) that will include stakeholders such as banks, FinTech companies and the government. It will look to create awareness of the best security practices for mobile and digital payments in the country.
"We are delighted to support Honourable PM Modi's vision of creating a 'New india' where technology unleashes a wave of new opportunities. We are committed to and look forward to working with MEITY across these broad range of initiatives and help every Indian to leverage the power of the Internet," said Rajan Anandan, Vice President of Southeast Asia and India at Google.
The Narendra Modi government had reached out to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on his visit to India in Jan to help the country in building a more secure digital infrastructure. Google is already partnering with the government to provide free Wi-Fi access to millions of Indians at 300 railway stations across the country.
The proposed Digital Payments Security Alliance will look at running awareness campaigns on safe and secure practices for digital payments, building capacity through 'Train the Trainer' programmes for government run Common Service Centres (CSC) and agencies working towards the financial inclusion of India's poorest.
After the Indian government banned large currency bills of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in November last year, the public was held hostage to using digital payments, a move which was lauded for getting more people to pay digitally. However, experts and several industry watchers opined that the government was ill prepared in terms of ensuring security standards in digital payments were up to the mark.
In the months that followed Demonetisation, public pressure has forced the government to look at introducing rules for Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) such as Paytm which are increasingly driving digital payments in the country. MeitY has floated its draft rules for regulating PPIs while the RBI too has mandated some guidelines to ensure safety of a user's money.
Google's partnership with the government will help India's digital payment ecosystem get access to the latest techniques of fending off attacks and building more secure systems. However, the country needs laws to enforce the implementation of minimum security standards by banks, digital wallets and other FinTech companies.