We share our first tech ticker of the year with some reason for cheer.
We are pleased to share that we are ranked as one of India’s best law firms for data protection, with Nehaa designated as a ‘Leading Individual’ in the same category, by The Legal 500. We are also highly ranked for our financial services regulatory, TMT, and aviation work, with Anirudh also recognized as a ‘Next Generation Partner’ for his aviation work. Last month, Chambers and Partners had highly recommended us for fintech and TMT work, with individual rankings for Anirudh (fintech and aviation), and Nehaa (TMT). We are grateful to our clients and well-wishers for their support.
On that note, let’s dive in.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is unlikely to table a crypto bill in the upcoming budget session of Parliament (starting 31 January, 2022). The MoF wants to consult more stakeholders on the issue and has asked for the Revenue Department’s opinion. The non-consensus on a taxation framework for crypto has further delayed the tabling of the bill. The MoF is also waiting for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to launch its own digital currency or central bank digital currency (CBDC), which is expected to be piloted soon. Read all about CBDCs in our primer here.
Come together, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Speaking at the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda conference, the PM said that a collective global effort is needed to deal with problems posed by cryptocurrency. He said that for such technologies, decisions taken by a single country will be insufficient to regulate it. He emphasised the need for global cooperation on regulating crypto at the Sydney Dialogue and a virtual summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in 2021.
New department meets old problems- Earlier this month, the RBI created a dedicated department for fintech regulations, which could assist in forming crypto regulations and creating a digital currency. Previously, members of the RBI’s central board opposed legalising private cryptocurrencies and called for a complete ban. They identified concerns around financial stability, traceability, and price volatility in the crypto transaction chain to make a case for banning cryptos.
Anirudh feels, “We can’t possibly afford a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies. Simply because we’d be stepping out of sync from major economies in the world”. Take a look at this Ikigai explainer on what has happened so far in the crypto space. Also, Anirudh and Amol explore the opportunities of Web3 and the new emerging ‘attention cryptocurrencies’ in an opinion piece for the Economic Times, here.
The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC): open for business?
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is actively working on its ONDC project, which aims to make e-commerce more accessible to local kirana stores, small businesses, and consumers.
What’s the ONDC? It is an initiative introduced by the DPIIT in 2020 to develop an open and interoperable architecture for the e-commerce industry. The open specifications and network protocols for the ONDC will be akin to UPI for payments, and will run independent of any specific e-commerce platform. It will standardize and digitize supply value chains, vendor and price discovery, and the onboarding of retailers onto e-marketplaces, among other things. It is not clear whether existing players will have to comply with protocols set out in the ONDC.
Who represents the ONDC? The government set up a 9-member advisory council in 2021 to advise on measures needed to adopt the ONDC. Among others, its members include Mr. R.S. Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority (NHA), Mr. Nandan M. Nilekani, non-executive Chairman of Infosys, and Mr. Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India. Zainulbhai says, the ONDC is a public good that is not under the government’s control, but is supported by the government. The advisory council lacks adequate representation from e-marketplaces.
Hacking the code to an open e-commerce network- To test the ONDC platform, the DPIIT and Start-Up India organized a hackathon in January 2022, and invited start-ups and major e-commerce players. In a previous hackathon conducted by the DPIIT in December 2021, the ONDC recorded its first transaction. A small-scale, trial run of the ONDC is also expected to be rolled out across two cities by April 2022.
Participation in the ONDC- The ONDC is incorporated as a private, non-profit company. 13 organizations including the National Payments Corporation of India, State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, National Stock Exchange, among others, have reportedly confirmed investment into the ONDC.
In case you missed it!
Mercury is in retrograde for
Online gaming– Shri. Narottam Mishra, Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh reportedly shared that online games have become a serious issue and the government will ban online games in the state soon. He added that a draft law is ready. Mishra had announced that the state would draft a law banning online games in August last year, but there has been no movement on this front. Also, the FICCI Gaming Committee (FCG) released a statement in response to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s statement in the state legislative assembly saying that he will permanently ban online gaming due to the high number of suicides tied to such activities. FCG has urged the Tamil Nadu government to adopt an enabling gaming policy as outright bans only encourage illicit gaming and benefit bad actors.
Stars have aligned for
Digital health– The NHA has launched the Unified Health Interface (UHI) initiative under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. The UHI will allow stakeholders (like open-source health app makers) to develop decentralized health protocols for healthcare delivery. The UHI is an open, interoperable system that would allow a patient to take the services of a doctor irrespective of whether or not they are on same technology platform. This works on the same logic as the ONDC. In 2021, the NHA released a paper proposing the creation of UHI. In our comments to the paper, we identified issues and solutions on strengthening telemedicine standards and health data protection, among others.
Earlier this month, we also conducted a mutual learning webinar with the Public Health Foundation of India to unpack the digital health regulatory landscape in India, including medical device regulations and telemedicine. Dr K. Madan G. (Senior Consultant, Niti Aayog), Dr. Uma Nambiar (Executive Director, Gimcare Hospital), and Sridhar Pillalamarri (Ubiqare Health) discussed how self-regulation and industry-driven standards will be important for driving digital healthcare delivery, and if needed, regulatory oversight, among other things. Sreenidhi moderated the discussion. More on the webinar, here.
Through the grapevine
After a draft policy on data centres from the Ministry of Electronics and IT in 2020 and a consultation paper from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in 2021, it appears that a revised draft of the National Data Centre Policy may be released soon.
That’s all from us, folks! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the top stories of the week and the new update to the tech ticker. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.