Rich rewards often entail great risks, and the same stands true for the highly volatile cryptocurrency market. The economic uncertainties in 2020 led to a heightened interest of masses and large institutional investors in a new-age asset class like cryptocurrency. Ever since the country’s Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on cryptocurrencies in March 2020, India’s crypto market has grown by 600% over the past year, according to research by Chainalysis. Currently, India has the highest number of cryptocurrency owners (around ten crore), followed by the USA, with 2.74 crore crypto owners. More than 340+ crypto start-ups have come into existence, and the trading volume has grown over 500% in India since March 2020.
Major global cryptocurrency exchanges are scouting the Indian crypto market, consistently showing a surge in daily trading volume over the past few years. The new trading platforms enable buying, selling, and trading that offers enhanced functionality through user-friendly applications. The trading volume of India’s biggest cryptocurrency trading platform, WazirX, with an 8 million+ user base, has reached over USD38 billion in 2021 year-to-date.
Despite regulatory fears and a possible blanket ban, cryptocurrency is skyrocketing in India. Ever since cryptocurrencies entered the market in 2013, they have always remained under scrutiny by Indian regulators. Following demonetization, a surge in fraudulent crypto transactions has further aggravated the lack of trust over the volatile digital ecosystem. The central bank and Indian government have developed some serious concerns from macroeconomic and financial stability with the sudden growth in the number of crypto traders in the country.
Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 (CRDC)
The new cryptocurrency bill passed in the parliament seeks a ban on “all private cryptocurrencies” in the country and creates a framework for central bank-backed digital money. The bill also intends to promote the adoption of digital currencies and address security risks associated with crypto exchanges introducing some safeguard measures. After the ban on private crypto trading platforms in the country, crypto assets would become illegal, engaging in possession, issuance, mining, and trading.
Amidst the looming concern over a ‘possible’ blanket ban on crypto trading, finance, and corporate affairs, Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has sparked some optimism among investors, saying that the government has not planned to ban the use of cryptocurrency completely. In a statement given to a leading English newspaper, Deccan Herald, the finance minister said, “From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options. We will allow certain windows for people to do experiments on the blockchain, bitcoins, or cryptocurrency.”
Why are Global Investors Attracted to the Indian Cryptocurrency Market?
Some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges are investing in India due to growing virtual trade volumes and growth of retail participants in the country. In 2019, India’s largest trading platform, WazirX was acquired by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, Binance. Seychelles-based BitMEX and San-Francisco based-giant Coinbase invested in another crypto start-up, Coin DCX, which has a user base of 3.5 million. Overall, many crypto start-ups in India managed to attract a sum of around USD95.4 million in 2020, mainly from foreign investors. The global investments in the Indian cryptocurrency market have increased by a whopping 1487% in the last five years. Despite India’s unclear policies regarding cryptocurrency, global investors are not afraid to make huge bets on the country’s digital coin ecosystem. Here are some of the factors driving them to make huge investments in the Indian crypto market.
· Tech-savvy Indian Population
A large proportion of India’s 1.39 billion population is young and tech-savvy, while the older generation preferred investing in gold, real estate, patents, or kinds of equities. The younger generations like millennials and Gen Z are adapting to high-risk crypto trading. As per Chainalysis’s 2020 report listing, India ranks 11th for global adoption of crypto, which explicates the enthusiasm about cryptocurrencies among the young Indian population. Hence, uncertainties regarding the cryptocurrency environment in the country are not able to shake the confidence of the youth population for investing in the virtual coin. Cryptocurrency has become what gold was for the older generation.
Rise of Trading Platforms
WazirX, CoinSwitch, CoinDCX, ZebPay, Unocoin are some of the successfully emerging trading platforms in the country that have collectively managed to acquire millions of users. The cryptocurrency exchange platforms are highly secured and accessible across various platforms, providing users with added flexibility and security. Also, they allow instant transactions as well as provide a friendly interface for cryptocurrency enthusiasts to buy, sell, or trade digital assets conveniently. Many of the new trading platforms accept INR for making purchases, and their trading fees costs as low as 0.1%. This provides both the first-time investors and local traders a lucrative opportunity for making investments without spending a hefty sum for trading.
WazirX is one of the leading cryptocurrency exchange platforms that is on its way to become a unicorn with steady growth. CoinSwitch Kuber is another such platform, which is ideal for beginners as well as people interested in doing daily crypto trading.In addition, CoinDCX provides users with the option of 100+ cryptocurrencies and allows them to make exchanges in different currencies. They even offer investors insurance to cover the losses in case of a security breach or other fraudulent activities.
Increasing Mainstream Institutional Adoption of Cryptocurrencies
Economic uncertainty and panic stirred by the COVID-19 resulted in a liquidity crisis. Many investors began to turn their holdings into cash to safeguard their finances, which severely affected the prices of bitcoin and altcoin. Although the cryptocurrency market underwent a major crash, it still managed to be the best performing asset class of the year 2020 amidst the global economic crisis. The increased vulnerability of the financial institutions and loss of trust in the policies of the central bank led to increased inclination of people towards cryptocurrency trading, which resulted in the major rebound of cryptocurrency. The sudden spike in the cryptocurrency prices led to an uptrend, which strengthened people’s interest in the virtual currency market, especially in Asia and the rest of the world.
Furthermore, the growing demand of people for convenient and reliable transaction solutions pushed digital payment gateways such as PayPal to show their support towards cryptocurrencies. Many payment gateways now allow consumers to hold, buy, or sell in exchange for virtual currencies. Recently, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk made an astonishing announcement regarding cryptocurrency, which sparked people’s interest in crypto trading even more. Elon Musk announced that the electric company would start accepting bitcoins from Tesla buyers, which led to an international bitcoin price rise from USD40,000 to USD48,000 within just two days. Two of the biggest platforms, Visa and Mastercard, also support the use of cryptocurrencies, introducing them as a medium to make transactions. Visa would allow transactions with stable coins on the Ethereum blockchain, whereas Mastercard would concede transactions with cryptocurrency sometime in 2021.
Investors and stakeholders want to make the best of proliferating the digital coin ecosystem and hence supporting the buying, selling, and trade of cryptocurrency and making them a sovereign digital currency to make purchases. Rather than buying expensive cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, investors are purchasing lower-priced coins like Litecoin, Polkadot, Solana, UniSwap, XRP, and more as calculated investments in altcoins can lead to larger gains.
Is India Heading Towards Financial Inclusivity with Cryptocurrency?
Due to predominant male population engagement in the virtual currency ecosystem, the cryptocurrency market was earlier considered a “Boys club”, but the scenario is definitely changing. A sudden increase in women investors and traders has led to more gender neutrality in the new and digital form of investment methods, which is a positive sign of the real economic development for a nation like India. Earlier, women used to stick to more traditional forms of investments, but now they are becoming risk-takers and venturing into the crypto space in India, which is highly volatile and does not always guarantee profits.
After the apex court of India announced the legality of “virtual currency,” one of the Indian cryptocurrency platforms, CoinSwitch, witnessed an exponential 1000% increase in its female user base. Although women investors still constitute a small percentage of the cryptocurrency community, they are fiercely competing in the Indian crypto market. Females generally tend to save a lot more than their male counterparts. More savings means more diversity in investments, which would be beneficial for women owners who are likely to invest in high-return assets such as cryptocurrencies. Besides, women are more analytical and better at evaluating financial risks before making the right investment choices, so they turn out to be more successful investors.
What Does the Future Hold for the Cryptocurrency Market in India?
The cryptocurrency market is booming at a rapid rate in India since 2020. India ranks 11th out of 154 nations in terms of cryptocurrency adoption, as per a report released by Chainalysis. Investments in cryptocurrency have grown from approximately 923 million in April 2020 to around 6.6 billion in May 2021. Rapid fintech advancements and greater adoption will contribute to a sharp increase in the number of Indians investing in the virtual currencies.
The blanket ban on crypto would impact the crypto community consisting of over 10 million holders, 300+ startups generating thousands of jobs as well as millions of dollars in revenue and taxes, which could lead to an economic crisis in the country. The right crypto regulation will push India ahead in innovative technology however, the imposed ban could set India back by a decade, and the country will end up losing a golden opportunity in this sector.
According to TechSci research report on “Global Cryptocurrency Market By Offering (Hardware & Software), By Process (Mining & Transaction), By Type (Bitcoin, Etgereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Dashcoin, Litecoin, Others), By End User (Banking, Real Estate, Stock Market & Virtual Currency), By Company, By Region, Forecast & Opportunities, 2025”, the global cryptocurrency market is anticipated to grow at a robust CAGR of 7% owing to the high growth in venture capital investments and enhanced transparency in distributed ledger technology.
According to another TechSci research report on “India Cryptocurrency MarketBy Offering (Hardware & Software), By Process (Mining & Transaction), By Type (Bitcoin, Etgereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Dashcoin, Litecoin, Others), By End User (Banking, Real Estate, Stock Market & Virtual Currency), By Region, Forecast & Opportunities, 2026”, India cryptocurrency is anticipated to grow at a significant CAGR owing to increasing requirement for transparency and reduction in transaction costs. Additionally, rising adoption of digital currency and growing blockchain technology are fuelling India cryptocurrency market.