“I believe the Rs 1,500 crore incentive announced will open a plethora of opportunities for Fintechs to innovate for the new normal, leading to large scale adoption even in the smallest of towns and villages,” said Harshil Mathur, CEO and co-founder of fintech unicorn Razorpay. “I'm hoping the funds will be used towards developing alternatives to zero MDR (merchant discount rate) policy and initiatives towards bringing digital financial literacy in vernacular languages.”
Vikas Garg, chief financial officer at digital payments giant Paytm said during the pandemic, digital payments emerged as one of the key enablers of empowerment at the grassroots. He said it brought millions of people under the fold of the formal economy. “Government's continued emphasis on increasing investment in infrastructure, insurance and digital payments will ensure financial inclusion of the masses,” said Garg.
The National Education Policy has been a strategic move towards guiding the development of India’s education. To strengthen the policy further, this Union Budget is focusing on initiatives like National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEA), according to Vamsi Krishna, CEO and co-founder of edtech company Vedantu. This is expected to provide a diverse education ecosystem for the development of digital infrastructure, educational planning, governance and administrative activities.
“I would like to see more investments and budget allocation to go into the education sector to enhance it with more trending technologies which will make education accessible to students in the farthest corners of the country,” said Krishna.
Industry executives said overall the Finance Minister has presented a balanced budget with adequate focus on key areas like infrastructure development, manufacturing healthcare and education. The impetus towards disinvestment and the promotion of new businesses are steps in the right direction.
“Urban Company is particularly pleased with the government’s focus on providing social security benefits including ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation) benefits towards gig workers,” said Abhiraj Bhal, co-founder of technology-enabled home services firm Urban Company. “This is a welcome move and takes forward measures outlined in the Social Security Code approved by the Parliament last year.”
This budget comes on the heels of a series of roundtables with key stakeholders in government, regulatory bodies, and the entire private equity, venture capital and startup ecosystem.
“The discussions were wide-ranging and very positive,” said Renuka Ramnath, chief executive and managing director at Multiples Asset Management and chairperson Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA). She said India needs at least 2.5 per cent of the GDP (Gross domestic product) to come in the form of PE, VC investments for the country to reach its $5 Trillion target (around Rs 8.75 trillion or $125 billion). “Only an internationally competitive tax and regulatory environment, as well as a level playing for domestic capital - unlisted shares, will catalyze investors to look towards India,” said Ramnath.
Industry executives also said the allocation of Rs 50,000 crore for the National Research Fund for the next five years is a definite step towards boosting the research ecosystem in a coordinated way.
“Focus on innovation and R&D, coupled with the PLI (production linked incentive scheme) for electronic manufacturing schemes lays down a very strong foundation in building a self-reliant digital India,” said Supria Dhanda, vice president and country manager for India, Western Digital. “We are confident that the technology industry will join hands with the government in its plan to enhance manufacturing capabilities and expand R&D centres,” said Dhanda.