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Regional languages gain digital ground

News, 24 June 2016

NEW DELHI: More and more digital business are tapping into the potential of regional languages in India, with Amazon India and Paytm among those announcing further expansion in this area.

Paytm, the digital payments and ecommerce platform, is creating local language-based services to assist its sellers.

"Sellers can add new products, manage inventory and orders, and get payment details in the regional language app," explained Sudhanshu Gupta, vice-president of Paytm.

"We have seen about 20% adoption of the regional language app, which is currently available in Hindi and will soon be available in six more Indian languages," he told the Economic Times.

And online retail giant Amazon India has just announced the launch of two more dedicated online language book stores, one in Bengali, one in Gujarati.

"We started launching our dedicated language book stores last year and have witnessed an enthusiastic response from readers across the country," said Noor Patel, director/category management at Amazon India.

The two new online stores join existing ones for Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi and Malayalam, the Times of India reported.

Such an approach may be one factor in boosting its traffic. Data gathered by Kotak Institutional Equities suggests that over the six months to May 2016, Amazon India generated between 33% and 62% more monthly traffic than its competitor Flipkart, while it has also climbed above its rival in the country's app rankings.

Further evidence of how regional languages are growing in importance came last month when the official website of the Prime Minister's Office was made available in six languages as part of the government's efforts to reach out to people across the country.

And it's a trend that will only gather pace as a working panel develops Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) and internet standards for enabling different scripts and languages in India.

A report from the IAMAI earlier this year suggested that increasing the availability of local language content could lift internet penetration by 24% as more consumers would be able to access relevant content online.

Data sourced from Times of India, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff