The Indian Cryptocurrency Saga: From Bans to Massive Investments and Everything In Between

India has always been an epicenter of growth and development, with a large demographic that plays a key role in creating markets. The population of the country has also been a major pull for cryptocurrency companies that have understood the impact it could have on mainstream adoption. All this conceptualisation came to a grinding halt in April 2018 when all forms of cryptocurrency transactions were banned by the country’s primary bank.

The Supreme Court of India finally lifted the ban in March 2020 after months of trials and legal battles by crypto-currency evangelists. This decision has brought in a wave of new investments and the South Asian subcontinent looks bright for the future. Let’s look now at how India’s virtual asset industry has changed and where it can go from that point forward.

Since Bitcoin ‘s inception, world governments have been scrambling to ensure that regulatory clarity in terms of the cryptocurrency industry is maintained. India has also been caught in the mix, debating the industry and how it can be managed.

2018 and the RBI ban

India had a functioning and thriving community of crypto-currency prior to the ban. Several crypto-currency exchanges and companies played a prominent role in creating the ecosystem of digital assets in India. Once the RBI made it illegal for cryptocurrencies to act as legal tender, major players like Zebpay and Coinex almost instantly had to shut down shop. Some organizations have decided to leave the country and take their business to another location. Analysts noted that despite the ban, there were still several citizens trading in crypto although using foreign exchanges.

The Supreme Court- Crypto’s Messiah

The cryptocurrency ban revealed one thing about the Indian masses-the would not take anything sitting down. Once the ban was in place, several cryptocurrency supporters and evangelists made it a point to move the country’s highest court for a fair trial. Non-profit groups and associations hired their own legal teams to make crypto’s case which finally came to fruition in March.

According to the Supreme Court’s latest decision, cryptocurrencies were no longer an illegal tender in India. This also meant that traders could finally make INR to crypto transactions without having to worry about conversions rates related to stablecoins or foreign currencies.

The Indin Cryptocurrency Scene Now

All doubts about the effectiveness of the court’s decision were removed when Indian traders jumped into the fray once more wholeheartedly. Reports showed that in the month of March alone, the Nischal Shetty founded Wazir X saw a whopping 400 per cent rise in trading volume. The exchange witnessed a 270 per cent spike the following month, unheard of consecutive figures in the Indian cryptocurrency community.

India’s potential was also recognized by the Chnaghpeng Zhao led Binance, which initiated a $50 million fund to promote blockchain technology in India. This was done in partnership with WazirX with a promise to build a more sustainable digital asset ecosystem in the country. Shetty, who is also the chief executive of WazirX had said:

“They [investors] have realized that a lot of startups are mushrooming and they want to be the early movers,” he said. “In the US, there are huge investments taking place (in crypto startups) since 2010, which will also happen in India.”

What does the future hold?

There is no doubt that, now that the ban is lifted, more and more investors will continue to make inroads into the country. Popular organizations such as BeFaster and CoinSwitch recognize that the wide scale scope offered by the population of the country is incomparable to the rest of the world.

If proper steps are taken, the companies mentioned above will have access to millions of traders most of whom are under the age of 30. Blockchain-based applications such as BeFaster will be attractive to the younger generations due to their focus on fitness and health. Customers of the application will also be able to earn tokens according to how they use it. BeFaster’s Co-Founders and CEOs, Irina Manilitsch told TWJ that:

“The fact that the government of India is opening up to cryptocurrencies right now is a great opportunity for investors and the population. The people of India will now also have the opportunity to generate additional income just by moving. Investors, on the other hand, now have the chance to invest in the future and a booming market.”

The path toward mainstream acceptance, however, is not all rosy. Reports have said some crypto companies still find it hard to operate in India because some banks refuse to deal with them. For their part, the banks have referred to the criminal activities that are being conducted using crypto as the key deterrent. If the crypto-currency industry needs to take off in India, exchanges and companies are responsible for providing a safe and legal environment for virtual asset trading.

Originally published at https://www.tronweekly.com on May 31, 2020.

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