By Nishant Arora
New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) As the Indian government formulates the new cryptocurrency Bill amid its growing adoption, Nischal Shetty who is the CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange WazirX said on Monday that proper rules and regulations must be put in place to let digital coins reach more investors in the country, especially smaller towns.
Touted as the most important asset class of the 21st century, more than 1.5 crore Indians are currently holding over Rs 1,500 crore worth crypto assets.
Bitcoin has crossed the $50,000 mark (more than Rs 37 lakh for a single coin) once again. The most popular cryptocurrency has been trading in the green with a market cap of more than $921 billion.
With 76 lakh users, WazirX has witnessed a massive 2,648 per cent growth in user signups from tier 2 and 3 cities in the country, observing higher participation from women from smaller towns compared to their urban counterparts.
The cryptocurrency exchange has clocked $21.8 billion in overall trading volume since January 2021.
“We welcome the government’s move on the cryptocurrency bill and wish that cryptocurrencies will not only become available for mainstream investors but also to those who have an inclination to try the new asset class. We already have our own self-regulatory code of conduct and best practices in place for our users,” Shetty told IANS.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said last week that she is awaiting an approval from the Cabinet on the bill on cryptocurrency.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said it may come out with a model of central bank digital currency (CBDC) as early as the end of 2021. A CBDC is a virtual currency issued by the central bank and has a sovereign backing, unlike other digital currencies.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, however, has flagged his major concerns over cryptocurrencies to the government.
In its circular on April 6, 2018, the central bank had prohibited banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies or offering any such service to the customers.
The circular was challenged in the Supreme Court, which set aside the rules on March 4 last year.
“A digital coin by the RBI will be the key step to popularise cryptocurrencies in India,” said Shetty.
“With expanding Internet access in a mobile-first country, people can start trading at ease as no bank account would be needed. The settlement period is easier, faster and 24/7 with crypto,” he added.
According to him, smaller towns are fast picking up on crypto which is spreading deeper into the tier 2, 3 and 4 cities.
Tier 2 and 3 cities have driven almost 55 per cent of total user signups on WazirX in 2021, overtaking tier 1 cities which demonstrated a signup growth of 2,375 per cent.
Moreover, women from these regions contribute to 65 per cent of the total signups by women from all over the country.
“Crypto has immense potential to remove the financial barriers for rural India, and provide cheaper access to capital, more online jobs,” Shetty noted.
Crypto assets are moving towards becoming mainstream with many brands around the world accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment.
(Nishant Arora can be reached at email@example.com)