By Landon Manning
Reliance Jio Infocomm, an Indian telecommunications provider, has announced a pledge to develop and implement a substantial blockchain network.
On August 12, 2019, Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani announced the move.
“Over the next 12 months, Jio will install across India one of the largest blockchain networks in the world with tens of thousands of nodes operational on day one,” according to a report on the announcement.
Ambani also noted that the company has over 6,000 software engineers and that it hopes to develop future talent through initiatives such as this one.
Although Jio is apparently using blockchain technology for various internal uses, such as in security protections and increased automation, this new plan is set to make distributed ledger technology available to millions of people.
“Data is wealth and Indian wealth must remain in India,” said Ambani, claiming that this new blockchain network can help increase the digital privacy of citizens all across the subcontinent once it is operational.
This massive investment in blockchain technology may come as a surprise to many given the Indian government’s recent attitude toward the most established use of blockchains worldwide. After months of rumors, a committee report to the Supreme Court of India officially recommended the total ban of crypto assets in July 2019, to be replaced by a state-run “digital rupee.”
Nevertheless, Jio is undertaking an ambitious plan with its own particular use case for distributed ledger technology. Setting up what it calls a “pan-India Edge Computing and Content Distribution network,” Jio is positioned to give a huge number of people access to a wide array of content and cloud infrastructure in addition to the efficiency advantages of blockchain technology.
There have been several voices in the fledgling Indian blockchain space firmly calling for further initiatives in the technology’s development, despite growing hostility for cryptocurrency. The Times of India, the subcontinent’s third-largest newspaper, reported on the staying power of the space on August 13, 2019.
In addition to drawing attention to the variety of private enterprises utilizing the technology, it also made a specific reference to the fact that 14 of India’s 29 state-level governments have been making their own headway into the world of distributed ledger technology.
This assertion from the Times seems to be in line with a wider trend of Indian blockchain enthusiasts announcing their continued support for the technology in light of the impending cryptocurrency ban. In addition to the aforementioned number of new private enterprises, existing companies have also been jumping into the blockchain space. Alongside tech industry titan IBM, the Indian automobile conglomerate Tata Group joined the governing council of Hedara Hashgraph, a company also aiming to increase Indians’ access to distributed ledgers.
This combination seems to be a potent indicator of continued interest across the board in a new Indian blockchain ecosystem. Large, independently successful companies like the Tata Group are trying to work their way into this new world even as new entrepreneurs are trying to build an ecosystem from the ground up, all within the backdrop of half of India’s state governments supporting the technology.
Even if the space in India is still young and underdeveloped, this level of commitment in the face of possible hostility shows that the region may prove to become a hub for blockchain technology in the near future.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.