Technology First, Regulation Later Says This Indian Bitcoin Company Owner
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Since last year's currency move of demonetization by the Indian government, the country is witnessing a rapid revolution in the behavior of Indian citizens with respect to adoption of varied modes of payment and currency handling.
The way India has accepted mobile wallets, plastic money, cryptocurrency companies have their hopes up.
Many of us know about ‘Bitcoins’, the currency which is often described as cryptocurrency. But not many know how bitcoins in the span of six years have created a revolution of being the first invention of digital currency that is hidden, private and secured with encryption.
With wonders of technology, the creation of ‘Bitcoin’ (a peer-to-peer electronic cash system) took place in 2008, this unknown method of currency exchange was then released in 2010 by an anonymous name which is still not in public.
The growth rate of Bitcoin startups in India has increased claims Bitcoin companies. But the key question remains - Will Indians adopt botcoins?
To go deeper in research on bitcoins and blockchain supply, Entrepreneur interviewed one of India’s first Bitcoin entrepreneurs on its trends, future and the world of the virtual currency.
An MBA and a corporate job for years in Melbourne did not satiate the desire of this founder and CEO of Bengaluru-based startup Unocoin who wanted to start something of his own.
Sathvik Vishwanath left everything to create a platform to buy, sell and store Bitcoin electronically.
“I always used to use PayPal for overseas transactions. But the amount of money it was eating up being a middleman to send money home in India was 3% of the depositing amount. Therefore, when I got to know about Bitcoins, I tried this process to send money and it was successfully accomplished on a secured interface,” says Vishwanath.
Plentiful of research landed Vishwanath to the creation of Unocoin - a platform to transact money overseas without giving middleman a cut from it.
“Like me, there are few lakhs of people, freelancers who work and face issue in sending money overseas. I was facing same issues in transferring money to home despite having a bank account, which I had to do every year – every month while I was there. And now I take the pride in helping that similar kind of people.”
According to him the lackluster infrastructure of banking sector led to the growth Bitcoins.
“If there would not be any issues then the need of these kinds of platforms won’t be there. But I believe different countries have different problems when it comes to money.”
The Indian startup Unocoin, which claims a constant 15 per cent increase in user traffic every month on website, has raised $1.5 million dollar in funding from the mix of Indian and US investors.
“Initially, it was just a platform of buying and selling, then we started offering merchant gateway services where an online merchant can accept bitcoin as a mode of payment for overseas transactions,” said Vishwanath.
With a team 30 employees, Unocoin started Point of Sales, and over-the-counter trading for people who wanted to buy and sell bitcoin in bulk.
Even though the transactions in bitcoins are irreversible, Vishwanath believes his target group will embrace the technology.
25-40 age group covers the user traffic on website, some through trading and some through buying and selling says this entrepreneur.
Real Challenge: Acceptance
Unocoin is not just the only Bitcoin startup dealing in Bitcoins.
Many other names have emerged. Zebpay, Conisecure and Search Trade have o come together to form ‘Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India’ (DAFBI) for holistic and more transparent virtual currency market.
A believer of his product, Vishwanath says at first a new technology comes, and then comes the regulation.
“It’s up to the people how do they categorize it."
“One doesn't know about technological inventions. There could be an approval from the end of government on it soon as well,” he adds.
(Interview by Aashika Jain)