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Why Google is tapping into India's digitisation story

According to Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology report, successful realisation of India's digital vision can unlock significant economic value, in the range of $800 billion to up to $1 trillion, up from the current $200 billion, and sustain 60-65 million digital-economy jobs by 2025

Rukmini Rao | July 13, 2020 | Updated 18:59 IST
Why Google is tapping into India's digitisation story
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Key Highlights

  • Google digitisation fund to invest $10 billion in India over the next 5-7 years.
  • Investment to be a mix of equity, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments
  • CapitalG Investments in start-ups include Freshworks, CarDekho, Aye Finance, among others

At a virtual 'GoogleforIndia' meet, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai on Monday announced Google for India Digitisation Fund, a commitment of  Rs 75,000 crore (approximately $10 billion) towards digitising the Indian economy over the next five-seven years. The fund deployment  will be a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, and infrastructure and ecosystem investments. "Google's efforts in India have deepened our understanding of how technology can be helpful to different types of people. Building products for India first has helped us build better products for users everywhere. But India's own digital journey is far from complete. There's still more work to do in order to make the internet affordable and useful for a billion Indian," said Pichai.

Google's investment through the fund will be around four key areas. One, enabling affordable access to the internet and to information to Indians in vernacular languages. Two, building new products and services that focus on the unique needs of the country including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture. Three,  to help businesses especially the small and medium ones in their digital transformation. Four, to leverage technology and AI for social good in areas such as digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies.

Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President, Google India said, "India has always been a strategic and important focus for Google. Over the last several years, under the 'Next Billion Users' initiative, Google has solved for India by understanding the challenges of India better and building products and solutions that can help Indians get more out of the Internet."

Tapping into India's digital opportunity

Google's new India fund is a step towards unlocking the latent digital potential in the country and the economic opportunities it brings. According to the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology report, successful realisation of India's digital vision can unlock significant economic value, in the range of $800 billion to up to $1 trillion, up from the current $200 billion, and sustain 60-65 million digital-economy jobs by 2025. Over the last five years the company has intensified its India customisation of products including offering voice navigation on Google Maps in seven languages, Search, Google Assistant, Google Translate in nine and supporting 60+ languages on Gboard. "With India-first products such as YouTube Go (low data consumption version), Filesgo (mobile storage space optimization app), Google's effort in India has deepened our understanding of how technology can be helpful to all different types of people. Building products for India first, has helped us build better products for users everywhere," said Pichai. Google's UPI payment platform Google Pay (earlier known as TEZ) today leads the pack in third party UPI payments,  putting behind other players such as PhonePe and Paytm.

India investments

Over the years Google has invested in many Indian businesses through Google as well as equity investment fund CapitalG (Alphabet's independent growth fund). Google's direct investments in India include  hyper-local delivery app Dunzo, Indian e-commerce fashion shopping platform Fynd (exited), a deep learning and machine learning systems development company HalliLabs and 'Where is my train' app that helps users access live train status and up-to-date schedules for Indian Railway trains. Through CapitalG it has invested in many Indian businesses through Google, as well as its growth equity investment fund CapitalG in startups such as  Freshworks, Practo Cardekho, Cuemath and Aye Finance. Its first investment in Commonfloor was got acquired by Quikr.

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