Visakhapatnam on fintech global map
Visakhapatnam on fintech global map

With over $154 billion in annual revenues, India's information technology (IT) and information technology enabled services (ITeS) sectors play key role in the country's growth story. Their role doesn’t end there though. The twin sectors are the top employment generating sources for both skilled and not-so skilled. These are also in the forefront of the sectors that churn out maximum export revenues for the country, thus helping India save its precious forex reserves. 

To put it succinctly, IT and its associate sectors have not only changed economic contours of India, but also elevated the country’s image globally. Thanks to the steps taken by the then Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu, Hyderabad emerged as an IT hub, contributing significantly to the India's software sector. 

It is no exaggeration to say that it is the IT sector that has put Hyderabad in global limelight. Unfortunately, Andhra Pradesh lost key IT pie as Hyderabad landed in Telangana's lap post- bifurcation. In 2014 elections, people especially youngsters in truncated AP rooted for TDP as they thought that its leader Chandrababu Naidu would develop IT sector in the residual State on the lines of what he did in Hyderabad. 

For Naidu who won the elections, and his seasoned team, it was a difficult task to develop plain software services sector by competing with Hyderabad. That was when his IT team led by J A Chowdary, an experienced hand in software sector, zeroed in on financial technologies or fintech and also chose coastal city of Visakhapatnam as base for IT and fintech in AP. 

A Fintech Valley Vizag project followed to attract fintech companies and encourage startups. Two international conferences and a host of other activities in fintech space helped the coastal city gain a foothold in India's fintech landscape in the past couple of years. The five-day Vizag Fintech Festival which kicked off on Monday would give further fillip to AP's aspirations in IT and would put the port city on global fintech map. About 2,000 delegates from India and abroad descended on the city to take part in the event. To spice up the fare, the AP government announced $1 million challenge to reward best startups in fintech, agritech and emerging technologies during the festival. 

Nevertheless, AP did a right thing by choosing fintech for its IT foray. It is among the fastest growing new verticals in IT space with a Nasscom-KPMG report forecasting that Indian fintech software market will touch $2.4 billion by 2020. Further, fintech software and services market will jump 1.7 times by 2020 from $8 billion in 2016.  

However, AP needs to do much more to attract big ticket IT investments. It has to develop a right ecosystem of abundant talent pool, good infrastructure, excellent air connectivity, adequate hospitality network and leisure spots for the high-paying sector to take roots in Vizag. Frankly speaking, given its beaches and alluring coastline, the coastal city is an ideal location for IT sector to flourish. No major IT hub in India has a coastline nearby.  But its success in this highly competitive space depends on how fast the Chandrababu Naidu government develops the right mix of the requisite ecosystem.


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