Can Corona be opportunity in disguise for Digital India


With sudden lockdown in many countries, the Corona Virus has been successful in bringing economies down on their knees. Many businesses that depended heavily on human intervention have suddenly crippled. When Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi declared lockdown, digital was seen as a ray of hope. In the Indian context, digital economy started to become the necessity of the hour. The question that now arises is that will Digital be accepted as a way of living or is this a temporary blip.

The picture for Digital Economy 2025 looks bright. For the answer question of current crisis, let’s look at some of the various segments where Digital has expanded its wings and also how it has worked during the Pandemic.

Various Services and their lock-down impact

Digital Payments

Note exchange involve transfer of virus. In order to reduce transfer of virus, Russia has planned to decontaminate cash for the next 14 days. A similar measure to ban note exchange, may not be well received in India. The fear of virus transfer would help catalyze the digital transfer of money. The bank accounts opened during the initial years of the Modi government, will play a significant role in the stimulus provided.

During demonetization in India, we saw a similar uptrend. Post demonetization, usage digital transactions saw a dip, however still at a higher level as compared to the pre-demonetization era. Expect Digital payments to scale new heights during the lock-down period.

OTT Players

Entertainment tops priority list for many in their ideal time. Lock-down just provides a match made in heaven. With so many OTT players in the market, it would easily be a problem of plenty. In India, OTT subscription and usage is lower as compared to other countries. Add to it regular TV shows are on hold too, due to no outdoor shooting. A player which would provide a good suggestion algorithm to watch during this pandemic shall emerge as a winner.

Social Media Usage

As per reports published by Kantar, Whatsapp has already seen a surge of close to 40% across the globe. Part of this surge is because of the forwards on COVID 19. Another major part of it is for people to connect for well being of friends and family. Facebook and Instagram are enjoying the benefits of free time available with people. It seems Mark Zuckerberg is going to have a multifold increase in his fortunes.

Collaboration Tools

A lot of offices opted for working from home as an option. In-office it would be easier to connect with others over a meeting, calls, etc. However, when all the team members are scattered, it’s a herculean task to connect with all at once. Thanks to various tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, etc. this challenge could easily be addressed. These tools did see an upswing in the user base during these tough times.
There is stiff competition in this space, which will see its clear winner only when someone who could operate in lower bandwidth

e-Commerce

e-Commerce players must be thinking they have clearly missed an opportunity. Their planning during the mega sale season needs so much planning. Without this planning, their situation is evidently weaker. Groceries and essentials delivery would have helped them win customers for the long. Amazon, Flipkart, Big Basket, DMart Ready, Grofers went all down together.
The scale they achieved in India with rapidity got disrupted in less than a week. It appears that eCommerce players need to look at alternatives and automation in their processes urgently.

Food Delivery and Rides

Food Delivery systems and Taxi sharing apps have taken a massive hit thanks to the social distancing in place. Though unlike e-Commerce apps these apps were expected to take a hit. Due to lockdown, supply side was impacted and hence there were limited passengers or restaurants available. Last-mile delivery is the ultimate bottleneck and I believe an innovation here would be a clear winner.

Parting words

More than an opportunity for many, this Corona virus came as a punch in the belly for many businesses. Many businesses might even struggle to rise back on their feet and some may never rise again. Suddenly the talks of AI and ML have faded out. Digital is here to stay and will see rapid changes in the next few years in terms of M&A, innovation and opening up new segments. But as of now it seems more of an opportunity missed by many.

In the meanwhile enjoy your lock-down and Stay Safe !!

Also Read – How Technology is enabling growth in Finance

References
https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/26/report-whatsapp-has-seen-a-40-increase-in-usage-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/
https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/26/ai-and-big-data-wont-work-miracles-in-the-fight-against-coronavirus/
https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/35509/russian-banks-act-to-decontaminate-cash?
Digital India logo from – https://www.digitalindia.gov.in/


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