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The pandemic has made everything digital-first, Balaji Srinivasan says


Bengaluru: The Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the adoption of digital and physical services across various sectors, making everything digital-first for users, former Andreessen Horowitz general partner Balaji Srinivasan said at the Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum on Thursday in a session moderated by Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl.

“In many ways, this is the year that digital became primary and the physical became secondary, since it’s cheap and fast,” Srinivasan said. “While physical is still valuable, it is now a premium product.”

The coronavirus outbreak also acted as a forced deprecation of the 20th century, especially for businesses who had not been upgrading their infrastructure or not leaning into technology since they were the ones worst impacted by the pandemic, he said.

“I think that the recovery is going to be a Y-shaped recovery, wherein we will take a different path in the road, that will see much more investment in biomedicine and less in 20th-century consumer leisure economy since everybody thought a lot about the mortality of their loved ones,” Srinivasan said.

The former CTO of crypto exchange Coinbase also reiterated his stance of India embracing cryptocurrencies to emerge as a global power, amid the growing tussle between the top two countries—the United States and China.

“India could basically be a global neutral, trusted platform, balancing against both increasingly combative players and standing for international peace and trade, leading a new non-aligned movement, which is a decentralised movement built around what blockchain-based platforms can do,” he said.

In recent weeks, Srinivasan has written about
why India should buy bitcoin and
how it could legalise crypto, even as the government weighs a law that could potentially ban all private cryptocurrencies in the country. He has previously said that India should champion decentralised cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to safeguard national security, prevent deplatforming, attract international capital, strengthen monetary policy, deter financial fraud, and accelerate technological development.

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During his session at the Nasscom event on Thursday, Srinivasan said this could be a vision for “Indian internationalism”, since the deplatforming that US corporations are doing is not “just going to be about speech, it’s also going to be about transactions”.

“Nations that embrace crypto are going to do far better in the long term. There are very few things that are at a trillion dollars and growing like crypto”, said Srinivasan.

Srinivasan proposed that the government should build a crypto IndiaStack and add a digital rupee that’s integrated with UPI along with a crypto wallet that can hold the digital rupee, digital gold, ethereum, and all other cryptocurrencies. This wallet can then be used by Indians within the country and abroad to send remittances and earn money for remote work.





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