The Mak­ing of a Tech Hub

Chan­drababu Naidu is bent on re­mak­ing Visakha­p­at­nam as a global fin­tech cap­i­tal

India Today - - STATES - —Amar­nath K. Menon

We are work­ing to en­sure that Vizag Fin­tech Val­ley (VFV) is on the map along with New York, London and Hong Kong,” Andhra Pradesh chief min­is­ter Chan­drababu Naidu de­clared at the five-day Vizag Fin­tech Fes­ti­val that con­cluded on Oc­to­ber 26. Touted as the largest such event in the world, it at­tracted nearly 2,000 delegates from 15 na­tions. Work­ing since De­cem­ber 2016, the chief min­is­ter is de­vel­op­ing the new tech ecosys­tem in col­lab­o­ra­tion with cor­po­rates, uni­ver­si­ties, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, tech­nol­ogy ser­vice providers, star­tups and accelerato­rs.

There are over 30 part­ners, in­clud­ing Visa, Thom­son Reuters, Broad­ridge Fi­nan­cials, HSBC and Mastercard. KPMG is help­ing im­ple­ment block chain tech­nol­ogy in the state land registry and road trans­port de­part­ments. Visa is work­ing to turn Visakha­p­at­nam into In­dia’s first ‘less cash’ city. They have also cre­ated a ‘fin­tech use case repos­i­tory’, which al­lows an open mar­ket ac­cess op­por­tu­nity for star­tups from across the world to run ‘proof of con­cepts’ as well as take up project im­ple­men­ta­tion. Coming up in Rushikonda (in Vizag), VFV is ex­pected to draw at least 75 fin­tech com­pa­nies with a to­tal in­vest­ment of Rs 500 crore. It will cre­ate some 50,000 jobs in a year’s time.

Dur­ing the fes­ti­val, Naidu’s gov­ern­ment signed MoUs with sev­eral firms, in­clud­ing Deloitte, HDFC Bank, WHub of Hong Kong, Fin­tech As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong, SOSA of Is­rael and Singex. The col­lab­o­ra­tion with WHub aims to set up an

in­ter­na­tional land­ing pad in Hong Kong for Andhra Pradesh-based star­tups to ex­pand op­er­a­tions, ac­cess tech­nol­ogy and mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. With SOSA, the state aims to es­tab­lish sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in Is­rael and New York. It will pro­vide Andhra star­tups and other com­pa­nies ac­cess to the SOSA in­no­va­tion net­work.

As an ad­junct of the fes­ti­val, the state hosted a one mil­lion dol­lar global startup chal­lenge that drew 37 com­peti­tors from 10 na­tions. The fi­nal­ists and win­ners of the chal­lenge will be sup­ported by VFV in set­ting up op­er­a­tions and grow­ing their busi­ness in AP. “We are striv­ing to put the state in the global lime­light by pre­sent­ing it as a gate­way to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion,” says in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ad­vi­sor to Andhra Pradesh, J.A. Chowdary.

How­ever, Naidu needs a lot more to at­tract big-ticket IT in­vest­ments. The state has to de­velop a vast tal­ent pool, en­dur­ing in­fra­struc­ture, bet­ter air con­nec­tiv­ity, and a hos­pi­tal­ity and recre­ation net­work for the sec­tor to strike deep roots in the port city. Al­though Vizag’s al­lur­ing beaches bring it a lo­ca­tional ad­van­tage over other IT hubs in In­dia, in­dus­try ex­perts say VFV’s suc­cess will de­pend on how quickly the Naidu gov­ern­ment can de­velop the req­ui­site ecosys­tem.

Naidu says “the ul­ti­mate goal is to make all gov­ern­ment trans­ac­tions on­line and in­te­grate the data to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble gov­er­nance”. He is bank­ing on in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to se­cure the fu­ture of the state, where he prom­ises ev­ery house­hold will have at least one com­puter-lit­er­ate and one en­tre­pre­neur mem­ber.


START IT UP Aerial view of Vizag Fin­tech Val­ley

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