Major Cryptocurrency Exchanges Now Eying India Market Despite Stand-Off Between Crypto Businesses and Banks
Coinbase, Kraken, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, and KuCoin are among exchanges eying the Indian crypto market despite unclear regulation hindering regulated banks and financial institutions from offering services to crypto exchanges and businesses.
A source familiar with the matter said that the companies “have already begun talks to understand the Indian market.” The source is directly involved with one exchange that is planning to acquire an Indian firm in the entry process.
The source indicated that the other two exchanges eyeing the Indian market are weighing on acquiring an Indian firm or setting up a subsidiary in the local market.
Coinbase, a top crypto exchange is also keeping a weather eye on the market after establishing plans for a physical office in the country this year.
The four exchanges are ranked among the top 10 exchanges based on CoinMarketCap data.
However, other smaller exchanges have either established shop already or are planning to according to reports. These include Singapore-based Alluma and Ahmedabad-based CoinRecoil yet to be launched by Kali Digital Eco-System.
Stand-off between banks and crypto businesses
Cryptocurrencies are legal in India and RBI has not banned cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, crypto exchanges can register as legal entities and start offering exchange services. The problem is that they cannot access banking services from legacy or regulated banking institutions for as long as they are dealing with crypto. Despite an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court that RBI was illegally preventing banks from offering crypto services to businesses, RBI has insisted on its position.
Crypto exchanges are therefore unable to offer fiat pairs to allow their customers to exchange fiat with crypto on their platforms. The exchanges cannot also access custody services for their crypto holdings and that of their customers.
WazirX, CoinSwitch Kuber, and ZebPay exchanges have cited frustration with banks. They have, at different times, reported banking issues, loss of banking services, and alternate routes of investing in crypto coins as a result of RBI announcements.
Vikram Subburaj, Co-Founder and CEO of the Giottus Cryptocurrency Exchange told News18 that the misunderstanding between banks and crypto exchanges is nothing new in India. He however said that the banks are still allowing retail customers to trade in cryptocurrencies.
“There has always been some friction between banks and cryptocurrency entities,” he said.
He said they have been able to resolve the frictions from time to time, adding that “crypto investors in India will never be locked out of their investments.”
Capitalize on crypto-to-crypto services
For that reason, there are no fiat-crypto on-ramps. Hence crypto exchanges establishing operations in India will have to leave customers to use the peer-to-peer platforms like LocalBitcoins.com, Paxful, and LocalCryptos to convert their fiat to crypto and back. The customers can then use other exchanges freely. In other words, they will have to capitalize on offering crypto-to-crypto trading pairs.
CoinDCX, India’s first crypto exchange is still operational, 3 years after responding to RBI bans by extending operations to India. It does not deal with legacy banking and institutions or offer INR pairs.
India crypto market set to grow
Subburaj told News18 that they are expecting the crypto industry in India to grow further despite the banking problems.
“This (global) trend is catching up with Indian HNIs as they consider this asset class with more clarity. We expect some form of Govt. regulation to boost adoption and clear all FUDs from retail investors’ minds. Overall, we believe, the industry is set to double in the next 12 months from the current market capitalization of $1.7 billion.”
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