Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls demonetisation a bold move for India

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai is in India and has been making plenty of headlines. Before meeting the students and giving a speech at IIT-Kharagpur, Pichai told the Economic Times, that the prime minister's demonetisation move was a bold one for a country like India, and if things turn out as intended, it could propel the country to global ranks in terms of digital payments.

The CEO of the world biggest internet company commented that “I have spent my life developing platforms. Every time you drive a platform shift, it has a big multiplicative effect, leveraged effect. Digitising a country of the scale of India, and making it work well, truly will have a beneficial effect,”

Google will also be working to build better digital products for a more digital savvy Indian economy going forward and is looking at the the Unified Payments Interface to for solutions to push out these products and services.

He brushed away fears about protectionism, a topic that recently generated interest when Flipkart's Sachin Bansal and Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal raised flags about the government not doing enough for Indian companies (over foreign ones).

“I have always felt the US to be an open and inclusive country. I don’t expect any of that to change,” said Pichai. “Companies in the US deeply care about being competitive. The reason why they are the best in the world is because they invest in the best resources and they have that mindset. There is nothing I see that indicates that will change,”  Pichai told the Economic Times.

At the same time Pichai hinted that Indian startups need to look at global scale and test their products on a global marketplace instead of just sticking to India.

Commenting on autonomous cars and India, Pichai's comments were in line with those given by Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick. “I don’t think a country like India is going to see, as Travis said, completely automated cars. But just like technology is assisting humans, we can make cars so that they are safer, and the driving experience is comfortable and shared,"

The UPI (Unified Payments Interface) stack also received plenty of praise and the CEO claimed that it was "phenomenal". He told the Times of India that such big platform shifts have enormous effects, and that he would never underestimate them.

"These things can have tremendous multiplicative effects for a place like India. This country has a chance to leapfrog some things other countries have struggled with.We're doing it with cellphones instead of landlines. Similarly , in digital payments, the UPI stack in India is phenomenal. Something like that doesn't exist in most countries. I do think we have a unique opportunity. There is a lot more infrastructure here than people realise. The foundations have been set for digitising India on the payment side as well. I am not an expert on this. But I think it is a courageous move and from Google's perspective, if there is anything we can do to help, we would be glad to do so." he told the Times of India.

At the Digital Unlocked event, Pichai spoke about how SMBs need to go digital to grow. The program was kickstarted to train SMBs through tutorials and workshops. He also mentioned how demonetisation has brought a digital shift to the country giving an example of the the Walnut app, which is also an SMB, that managed to update with a new feature where one could locate ATMs within 48 hours of the demonetisation announcement.

Published Date: Jan 05, 2017 09:05 am | Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 09:05 am