Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said financial inclusion is now a reality for 1.3 billion Indians as he pitched India as the “best destination” for financial technology companies and startups, ANI reported. Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Singapore, made the remarks in his keynote address at the Singapore Fintech Festival.

“My government came to office in 2014 with a mission of inclusive development that would change the lives of every citizen, even the weakest in the remotest village,” ANI quoted the prime minister as saying. “That mission needed a solid foundation of financial inclusion for all – a task that wasn’t easy in a country of India’s size.” The prime minister claimed his government has generated more than 1.2 billion biometric identities in a just few years.

The Singapore Fintech Festival is the world’s largest event on financial technology and was launched in 2016. Modi is the first world leader to address the festival.

The prime minister also lauded the “rapidly rising digital transactions” powered by RuPay and BHIM payment apps. “Today, 128 banks in India are connected to UPI [Unified Payments Interface],” he said. “Transactions on UPI grew 1500 times in the last 24 months. Every month, the value of transaction is growing by over 30%.”

Modi said India has witnessed an “explosion of fintech innovation and enterprise”. “The future of fintech and industry 4.0 is emerging in India,” he adedd. “We see inspiring stories of extraordinary innovation changing ordinary lives. But, there is much to be done. Our focus should be on development for all through development of the marginalised.”

The prime minister said his government has helped open 330 million new bank accounts in three years. “These are 330 million sources of identity, dignity and opportunities,” PTI quoted him as saying. “Less than 50% of Indian had bank accounts in 2014. Now, it is nearly universal.”

After the festival, Modi met his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. “Good exchange of views on cooperation in financial technology, enhanced connectivity and regional economic integration,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

Meeting with Mike Pence

The prime minister, who is in Singapore for a two-day visit, also met United States Vice President Mike Pence. “We are looking forward to having a more reciprocal trade relation with India,” News18 quoted Pence as saying. “I thank PM Narendra Modi for all the support.”

The Ministry of External Affairs said Modi had told Pence that there was a “great opportunity” for the US in the field of defence equipment manufacturing in India. “The issue of terrorism was discussed and US Vice President Pence appreciated cooperation between US and India on counter terrorism,” the ministry added.

Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, the prime minister had a “warm meeting with the US vice president”. Modi and Pence had “a productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues”.

The prime minister also held bilateral meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Mottison and Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-India informal meeting.

Before leaving for Singapore, the prime minister said his participation in the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolises India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members and in the Indo-Pacific region.