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India’s planned national blockchain infrastructure to boost collaboration with open APIs

Multiple media outlets in India have reported that the country is building a national infrastructure for its nascent blockchain technology industry.

The ambitious project, “Design and Development of a Unified Blockchain Framework for Offering National Blockchain Service and Creation of Blockchain Ecosystem” is designed to provide industry participants with open APIs for improved collaboration.

After several months of initial experimentation, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been tasked with developing India’s national blockchain infrastructure. MeitY has been investigating the potential of blockchain since 2021, culminating in the Ministry’s decision to publish a blockchain strategy.

The latest project of a national blockchain infrastructure shares striking similarities with the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) and the Chinese Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN). Upon launch, industry players will not have to go through the hassle of setting up their own blockchain nodes for interoperability or security.

The reports claim that MeitY’s project will provide developers with smart contract templates for different scenarios, but a premium will be given to government applications. The national blockchain infrastructure will offer templates in health, education, finance, shipping, and logistics.

MeitY’s proposed offering will rely on enterprise solutions like Sawtooth and Hyperledger Fabrics in the first stage, while non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also in the offing. It appears that the infrastructure will be a hybrid of the EBSI and the BSN, as details indicate that both government agencies and private enterprises will be onboarded on the platform.

Calls for an India blockchain infrastructure have been gathering steam to reach a fervent pitch when CEO of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) Dilip Asbe wrote an opinion piece in favor of the move in the Indian Express. In his article, Asbe noted that “the ideal solution to solving most of the known issues of decentralized technologies lies in the middle path” of a national platform operating.

Forging ahead without a unified standard

Indian regional governments have been exploring blockchain for record-keeping in land transactions and for criminal forensics in the absence of a unified standard. Multiple civil society groups have launched learning modules to increase blockchain adoption in the country in partnership with service providers and universities.

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has not hidden the government’s faith in blockchain as she confirmed that the country is targeting a 46% adoption rate for the technology. Already, available metrics place India as the leading hub for blockchain in the region ahead of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

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