Bengaluru: The growing trade and economic synergy between the UAE and India has opened up opportunities for software giants like Infosys to leverage a whole gamut of new technologies, from refining blockchain platforms to using artificial intelligence (AI) and robots for banks, top Infosys officials said on Monday.
“We have successfully implemented a pilot project with Emirates NBD bank in the UAE to use blockchain network for international remittances and financial services," said Rajashekara Maiya, associate vice-president at Infosys and principal of product strategy for Finacle, the financial solutions suite by the company.
"As a result, a remittance transaction that earlier used to take hours and sometimes days for customers of the bank can now be done in just 36 seconds,” he added.
With a blockchain network in place, Emirates NBD and its partner banks in India have been able to automate inter-bank processes through smart contracts and secure digital exchange of documents, thereby leading to major cost and time savings for the business, Maiya said.
“Besides, such technology has also completely transformed the customer experience for businesses,” he said.
$70 billion annual remittance to India
Infosys is now exploring an expansion of the platform to other interested partners and setting up a consortium for the transaction network, he added.
According to the World Bank, the UAE-India remittance corridor is one of the busiest in the world and received a share of $70 billion (Dh257.11 billion) out of the $580 billion remitted the world over in 2017.
“We have long ties with the UAE and the Middle East. Our operations in the region started in 1997, while we opened our first UAE branch in 2001. A lot of banks in the UAE use our financial solution Finacle, while we have a range of retail, manufacturing and other clients in the country as well,” said Binod Hampapur, executive vice-president of Infosys.
“We are all looking forward to the visit of Narendra Modi to the UAE next week because a lot of our bilateral cooperation that has already started can develop further,” said Hampapur, who is also the global head of the company’s talent and technology operations.
The officials were speaking at a media interaction at the Infosys headquarters in Bengaluru ahead of Modi’s impending visit to the UAE this Saturday and Sunday.
On potential challenges in further developing trade and investment relations between India and the UAE, Maiya said both countries need to offer an open-door policy and two-way transactions for bilateral businesses to flourish.
“We always believe in nurturing local talent in the countries we operate in, so a growing footprint for us in the UAE will benefit its local population,” he said.
But with growing business comes concerns about privacy and cybersecurity, and Infosys was on guard to protect its businesses and customer transactions in the UAE, Hampapur said.
“We are doing this through three key steps: fully complying with all UAE regulations, using multi-factor authentication for transactions and deploying advanced biometrics for enhanced security,” he said.
‘The GST network is working smoothly now’
India’s initial challenging experience with the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has now changed into a hassle-free digital experience, a top official of Infosys said on Monday.
“Any new system that we try to roll out in a vast country like India will definitely have a lot of resistance. This is one such instance, especially since it affected more than 4 million users who never used to pay tax earlier,” Binod Hampapur, executive vice-president of Infosys, told Gulf News on the sidelines of a media interaction yesterday.
“Even tax officials in India were not used to such transparency in accounting,” he said.
India rolled out the GST in July 2017 to set up a uniform tax structure in the country, and Infosys is the key architect of the GST network infrastructure.
“The Indian government was quite inflexible in the beginning as it rolled out the GST network, but later made course corrections where necessary to make it as beneficial for users as possible — including reducing tax rates,” Hampapur said.
Infosys co-founder and current non-executive chairman, Nandan Nilekani, submitted a series of recommendations to the Indian government weeks ago to help simply the invoicing system of GST further.
Admitting that there were a few initial issues, including a deluge of invoices landing on the 19th and 20th of every month that led to a denial of service and system shutdown, Hampapur said: “Now the entire network is working beautifully without any hassles.”