Digital Currency in India – Part 2 – Resurgence

Cut to 2015. The scenario is lot more encouraging.  Economic times of India, in an August feature indicates that albeit being slow, there are many Indians who have started using bitcoin to transfer money to the kin abroad.  In a report, Red Herring reports that the usage of bitcoin in India is going to surge by 2016.  

Progress is in 2015:

There is no clear information available of how much of Bitcoin transactions is happening.  Blockonomics, a bitcoin start-up, pegs the value of Bitcoin transactions per month at $ 4-5 million.  Compare this with India’s annual payment remittance industry size of $ 70 billion – we know that the growth is a long way to go. India has been a slow adaptor to Bitcoin technology.  However, there are some encouraging signs of growth as we can see below.

ePaisa, a mobile payment start-up has enabled a QR code scan based payment.  The scanned QR code will enable payment of currency on an immediate basis.  Education institutions like Dharwad international school has allowed bitcoin payments as part of places.  

Exploiting gaps in the payment services, payment start-ups like Unocoin have come into prominence. Unocoin serves now more than 20000 customers and growing at a rate of 35% per month.  The founders believe that Bitcoin can play an important role in financial inclusion as most of India are still yet to come online – and Digital currencies can help bridge the gap.

Times of India reports that sellers like Sapna Book House, bus ticket booking portal eTravelSmart,  fashion portal, and internet platform service provider are among those who have signed up and are now accepting bitcoins from their customers. Coinsecure, another Indian bitcoin exchange, is likely to introduce a merchant gateway in the coming months.

However, the major issue is the absence of a regulatory framework.  The RBI’s approach has been cautious, when it comes to putting together a framework.  While dealing with this lack of clarity, companies like BTCX India have implemented strict KYC norms to ensure full tracking of the person and purpose of the bitcoin transaction.  

Bitcoin equals Rs 28400/- Indian Rupees as on December 20th, 2015. According to a report in Times of India, India currently has around 50,000 bitcoin enthusiasts, with 30,000 of them actually owning the currency.  

Like mobile wallets, Bitcoin is also gaining prominence in India.  However, obviously, there is a long way to go.  Indian Banks make money through services offered and the revenue model from digital currency is not visible to them yet.  The Central Bank has is yet to bring clarity on bringing Bitcoin and other digital currencies into the Indian currency system fold.   The Digital currency industry is interestingly poised, as we go into 2016.