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India Moves Forward in Blockchain, AI Research as NPCI and IISc Join Forces

India, despite its sceptic stance towards cryptocurrencies, is all in favour of conducting research and development around blockchain – the underlaying technology that powers cryptocurrencies. In a fresh development, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has joined forces with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. The aim of this partnership is to conduct research around emerging technologies like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Both the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) officiating this collaboration.

The NPCI, as its name suggests, is an RBI initiative focussed on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through technologies. The IISc, on the other hand, is among India’s premier institutes for advanced scientific and technological research – established in 1909. Both these parties together, will work on developing scalable blockchain platforms. A multi-modal analytics platform to oversee fintech data will also be in the works as part of this collab.

“As our nation progresses towards digital sustainability, we recognize the significant potential for research in deep technologies such as blockchain and AI to further enhance the payment landscape,” Vishal Kanvaty, Chief Technology Officer, NPCI said in an official statement.

Blockchains are digital ledgers that record transactions across multiple computers instead of storing the data on one single network or server. Replacing traditional networks with blockchains would increase the security quotient offered by protocols against record tampering and hacks. The NPCI’s quest to understanding the blockchain technology deeply is not new. Last year, the NCPI had announced the launch of Falcon — an open-source project that aims to simplify the management and use of blockchains.

Back in 2020, the NPCI designed ‘Vajra’, a blockchain-based system for automating payment clearing and settlement processes for NPCI products. In April 2023, a dedicated impact lab aimed at developing and working around blockchain technology has been set up at the Hyderabad campus of the Indian School of Business (ISB).

The government of Telangana also entered into an agreement with the Bharat Web3 Association last February to stir discussions around blockchain technology. As part of this research, the NPCI and the IISc will also conduct research and development around cryptography and machine learning (ML).

“The joint research envisioned between NPCI researchers and IISc faculty members provides a unique opportunity for translational research that can enhance the scalability and effectiveness of the billion-scale platforms managed by NPCI,” said Professor Yogesh Simmhan, Associate Professor at the Department of Computational and Data Sciences, IISc.

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