Bitcoin: Millennials Pull Crypto Out Of The Shadows In India

In hundreds of small towns and cities in India, a generation that has almost no experience with stocks and bonds is moving directly to bitcoin, ethereum, cardano and solana. The average age of 11 million users of CoinSwitch Kuber, a cryptocurrency trading application that didn’t exist 18 months ago, is 25 years old, and 55% of them are from major cities like New Delhi or Mumbai.

The widespread acceptance of digital tokens by Millennials and Generation Z is helping to lift the industry out of the shadows since 2018, when the founder of the crypto stock exchange was briefly in police custody for daring to set up a kiosk in a Bangalore mall, Where people could trade their bitcoins for money. Now business is very public and very visible. CoinSwitch Kuber has joined the popular Bollywood youth icon for an ad campaign titled “Kuch Toh Badlega” – Kuch Toh Badlega.

For CoinSwitch, which began as an aggregator of the best real-time prices for digital assets around the world, something already exists. In 2018, the newly launched venture could not run on its turf as the Monetary Authority of India directed banks not to entertain customers dealing in virtual currency. It was not until March last year that the Supreme Court lifted the ban. CoinSwitch, whose application was released in June, bought 11 million customers in 16 months. Investors eye the startup: It recently became the first in the country to raise $1.9 billion in Silicon Valley venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz.

After becoming mainstream in such a short period of time, the industry is looking to regulate itself. “We have decided to show our face,” said Ashish Singhal, one of the three co-founders of CoinSwitch. “Even if regulation hurts our business in the short term, it is better than being forced to operate in a gray area with less security and without much room for growth.”

The fear of being banned has increased since last year’s court order gave new life to a dying industry. But now this danger is decreasing. While Beijing announced last month in the clearest terms that it was determined to root out all virtual currency transactions, the general consensus is that New Delhi would be reluctant to take such an extreme step. This is partly because the relationship between private business and the state is different in India, where politicians need corporate donations to contest expensive elections, and citizens do not like being told by the government whether tuition, online games – or owning cryptocurrencies – is bad. for them.

But part of the industry’s confidence stems from the belief that policymakers are confident about the benefits of a blockchain-based innovation economy. iSPIRT, an influential Bangalore-based think tank, advises India to embrace the growing sector of decentralized finance to close the $250 billion financing gap for small and medium-sized enterprises and all like Balaji Srinivasan, former chief technology Online Wall Street builds for. This is described by executives from the largest US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc.

“We, as a country, have missed Internet 1.0,” Singhal said. “We gave Google and Microsoft world-class talent, including their current CEOs, but we didn’t create those titans. With blockchain, we can build some global giants.”

However, the widespread adoption of crypto trading is making authorities – especially central banks – uneasy. CoinSwitch isn’t the only company that uses celebrity endorsements to promote trading ahead of Diwali, the traditional gold buying season. According to Bloomberg News, executives recently met Amitabh Bachchan and informed the Bollywood superstar about their concerns regarding his deal with another Indian crypto-exchange CoinDCX as the brand ambassador.

The current speculative enthusiasm could use some tension, although it is too late to try something more drastic. “It would not be fair for Generation Z investors to defer the entire asset class beyond sanctions,” said Sharan Nair, chief business officer at CoinSwitch. I want to solve the problems in the world. What can they do as a shareholder of a bank whose website they do not like? ”

According to a survey by data analytics firm Kantar, around 83% of urban Indians are aware of digital currencies, while 16% actually have them. They want more – cryptocurrency extraction is now half as strong as mutual funds, a product with which older generations have a very close relationship. It offers a glimpse into the future of investors’ portfolios: a mix of digital assets and traditional financial products. Even without the reflected light of Bollywood stars, the crypto industry in India is not going dark again.

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