The Indian crypto community has had an eventful year, with a bill on the horizon, the RBI ban’s supreme court hearing, and the community’s efforts toward positive crypto regulation. News.Bitcoin.com interviewed Nischal Shetty, CEO of local crypto exchange Wazirx, about what the Indian crypto industry could expect in the year 2020 and a wide range of other crypto topics.
News.Bitcoin.com (BC): How did you first get involved in crypto? What attracted you to the industry?
Nischal Shetty (NS): I’ve been on and off learning/understanding crypto since 2009. But I got deep into it only in 2017. The “permissionless” aspect of crypto is what attracted me to this industry. Imagine being able to build what you want without needing to rely on any other person or company. This aspect of crypto will lead to innovations in finance and tech that has never been possible in traditional financial systems.
Nischal Shetty, Wazirx’s CEO.
BC: How will crypto benefit India?
NS: There are millions of ways in which crypto will immensely benefit India. To keep my answer short, the three prominent benefits would be:
1. Employment and entrepreneurship:
Hundreds of crypto startups will emerge the moment the Indian government takes a positive step forward in crypto. This will, in turn, lead to thousands of new jobs in the country.
2. Access to cheaper capital:
The interest rates in India are higher than in most other countries. Crypto has the power to provide access to cheaper capital in India.
3. Banking the unbanked:
There are over 300 million unbanked in India. Traditional banking requires physical infrastructure thus making it difficult and expensive to reach all parts of India.
Crypto can penetrate faster and involve such unbanked people in the online financial ecosystem.
BC: How would Facebook’s Libra benefit India? Is India likely to allow Libra in the country?
NS: India has tons of freelancers working for clients across the world. Libra can help them accept payment from anyone anywhere in the world for the work they’ve done.
Libra can provide financial inclusion to those in India who do not have access to traditional banking.
It’s going to be an uphill task for Facebook to get Libra accepted in India. But I really hope the Indian government looks at the merits of such initiatives and allows it.
BC: What do you think of the RBI introducing a digital currency? Do you think a central bank digital currency would benefit India?
Yeah, it would definitely benefit India and Indians. I’m more excited about the fact that a CBDC [central bank digital currency] could open the gates for innovation with developers not only in India but around the world building wallets and other products for such a currency. This would mean more choices for the Indian consumer.
BC: Do you think the Supreme Court will lift the RBI ban? If so, when do you think that will happen?
I really hope they do. I think we’ll see some solid progress with the case in 2020 as the matter has reached a stage where it’s being heard in court.
BC: Why do you think the government has not introduced a crypto bill yet? Do you think the government will still go ahead with the draft bill to ban crypto?
NS: The Indian government will not rush into a bill without understanding the technology and discussing it with the crypto industry. This is the major reason why the proposed draft bill has not been considered.
We’re confident that our leaders will engage with the crypto industry of India and then progress in the right direction.
BC: Do you think the government will eventually introduce positive crypto regulation? If so, when do you think that will happen?
NS: I absolutely think they will introduce positive crypto regulations. It might happen in 2021/2022 depending on the pace of regulations in other countries, especially U.S. India will wait and watch other progressive nations before making any regulatory moves in crypto.
India’s finance minister whom the crypto draft bill was submitted to in February.
BC: What are the most important things the Indian government should realize about crypto?
1. Crypto is one of the most innovative technologies of this decade.
2. India should get in ASAP so that we build the much-needed expertise in crypto.
3. India will see a boost in jobs if we promote crypto technology.
4. India can attract billions of dollars worth of investment if it opens up to crypto.
5. Indian startups can get access to a larger capital pool if India brings about favorable ICO regulations.
BC: Looking ahead, what should the crypto industry in India expect in the year 2020?
NS: 1. Crypto exchanges in India will see even greater competition as exchanges around the world start competing for the Indian audience. India is a sleeping giant in the crypto space and everyone wants to capture a piece of this market early.
2. We’ll see lawmakers taking positive steps towards understanding crypto and involve the industry to formulate the right set of crypto regulations.
3. Defi will take off in a big way in India.
4. A lot more Indian developers will take interest in building for the decentralized internet.
5. At least one crypto company will hit $10M+ in revenue encouraging more startups in this space.
BC: What are the latest developments for Wazirx after the Binance acquisition? What has changed/improved?
We’re in the process of a deep P2P integration into Binance that will allow Indians to easily buy/sell crypto with INR right within Binance.
Binance believes in providing complete independence to the teams within the company. That has been true for Wazirx where we still operate as an independent entity. However, we’ve gotten access to so much talent that exists within Binance that our execution speed has increased immensely. If we hit any roadblocks, there’s always someone within Binance who knows how to help out.
Expect a lot more speed and new stuff faster from Wazirx now that we’ve been acquired by Binance. We want to grow the crypto ecosystem in India and we’re confident we’ll be able to do that with help from Binance.
BC: How is the “India Wants Crypto” campaign going?
NS: It’s going really well. Every day more and more people in India and around the world get to know about this campaign. The campaign has been able to spread the right information about crypto throughout India.
I’ll continue to run the campaign as it has gone above the initial objective of being heard by lawmakers to now being a symbol of hope for crypto in India.
We need to keep spreading this awareness and I’m sure a time will come when we’ll be heard by our lawmakers as well.
Do you agree with Shetty? Do you think the supreme court will lift the RBI ban at the next hearing in January? Do you think the Indian government will introduce positive regulation for the crypto industry in 2020? Let us know in the comments section below.
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