#3 Reasons Why this Indian City Promises to be the Next Global Fintech Destination

With an INR 500-crore Fintech fund, Vizag also promises to be Asia's no.1 cashless city

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From the time Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, a race had silently started for the IT throne between the two.

JA Chowdary

While on one side the established city of Hyderabad boasted of IT parks and big corporate houses, on the other stood the establisher, Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He is again on a mission to change the landscape of another city, the way he did it with Hyderabad.

Now he's claiming that the business capital of the east Vishakhapatnam will be the global Fintech destination. How you ask? With the establishment of the Fintech Valley.

Entrepreneur India talks to the man at the helm of the project, J.A. Chowdary, the IT advisor to the CM, as he explains why they choose Fintech over other sectors and gives three reasons why Vizag is the next big fintech stop.

Why Fintech and Why Vizag?

While studying the new age dynamics of technology globally, Chowdary and team realised that what we consider as disruptions now, are soon going to be disrupted. Looking for the hot sectors that will impact the world of technology in the biggest way, they found that the top spots were held by Cyber Security, Blockchain technology, Artificial Intelligence& Machine Learning and Data Analytics. "Data is the new oil," he said with a chuckle.

"We realised that Fintech is the one sector that covers all of these breakthrough technologies and is growing at 26 per cent globally. That is one we decided to build our own business capital of the east, attracting the best of the fintech companies to set up R&D facilities, Centre of Excellences, start-ups with the best in Blockchain and AI and more," he said.

The push to build the Fintech Valley in the port city of Vizag, comes in the wake of building their own business capital of the east. While the other IT hubs of the country are slowly facing stagnation and have no more land space, Vizag promises to give them land, infrastructure and presence of global corporate.

The IT advisor to the CM also talks about their ambitious plans with VISA to transform Vizag into Asia's number one cashless city. "With our partnership with VISA, we are coming up with digital payment mechanisms that would help us be cashless in 12 months. For example, if one boards a bus, there pickup and drop points will be recorded and the money will be deducted from their bank accounts directly. From buses to toll gates, it will all become cashless," he said.

In the Absence of Money, the Promise of Funding

The start-up ecosystem has seen a slump in funding and more often than not, the question "Where are the funds?" has been making headlines. In such a time, the AP government is looking at building INR 500-crore AP Fintech Fund for start-ups. When asked how they plan to do it, Chowdary said, "We are raising the fund with a 100 crore seed fund from the AP government and then inviting LPs like banks to pitch in."

A challenge that offers million dollars as the big prize is also on the cards. "We will have two big events annually - one on blockchain in October and one in February which will be a global fintech summit. This summit will have a million dollar challenge open to fintech companies across the world, but will also offer them market access," he said.

An International Market Access for Start-ups

But are their promises limited to just funding? "We are looking at the next step. What's difficult yet important is the market access that start-ups require. We will be a using a unique use-case repository and sign up partnerships with global companies to give start-ups actual market access to grow," Chowdary said.

They have already signed MoUs with banks like HSBC, ICICI, HDFC and even the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to give market access to Fintech Start-ups based out of Singapore. They have also signed a MoU with Broadridge Financials to set up a Centre of Excellence on blockchain.

Creating Skill and Promising Jobs

The lack of entry-level manpower, where the candidate is also well versed with technology, has long been a problem with industry. While at the same time, where there's manpower, the lack of exposure to global companies has led to loss in talent. Solving this problem, the Fintech Valley has set up institutes to give students knowledge in deep tech.

"We have set up International Institute of Digital Technology, schools like school of cyber security and one for data analytics. Built on the lines of IIIT-Hyderabad and ISB Hyderabad, the one-year PG diploma program run by industry professionals, connects students to over 80 global mentors and keeps them updated on what's happening on the technology front," Chowdary said.

Now that they will students equipped with the latest in technology, they are offering companies to set up their base in Vizag promising them talent. "The company which wins the million dollar challenge will have to set up an office in Vizag so that it provides employment to the locals," said Chowdary.