The Making of a Tech Hub
Chandrababu Naidu is bent on remaking Visakhapatnam as a global fintech capital
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.
VIZAG’s FINTECH SUCCESS WILL HINGE ON HOW QUICKLY NAIDU CAN DEVELOP THE BASIC ECOSYSTEM
START IT UP Aerial view of Vizag Fintech Valley