India’s recent cash grab has triggered an increase in bitcoin user adoption. The price of bitcoin in India hit as high as $1000 USD, creating interesting arbitrage opportunities. India has a population of over a billion people and one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the world. The combination could be a potential catalyst for Bitcoin’s consumer adoption phase.
We reached out to Sunny Ray, President of Unocoin, the largest Bitcoin exchange in India to ask him what he thinks about the situation.
How did you first hear about bitcoin and what inspired you to start a bitcoin company?
I think I first heard it from a co-worker and I didn’t take it seriously. Then I read about it on Twitter around mid 2011 and that’s when I started learning more. I’d spent a few years in the financial services sector before 2006 and had seen many of the major systemic problems with the current monetary and financial system. So when I finally learned about bitcoin 5 years later, it was like seeing the light. Everything about it was interesting to me: open source, instant, limited, decentralized, global, digital, mining, immutable, etc.
The thing that led to Unocoin was essentially the answer to a question: how do we make it easy and secure for people in India to buy and sell bitcoin? We scratched our own itch, that’s it. We set out to build a platform that made money simple by bringing bitcoin to billions. That’s essentially what Unocoin is.
Have you noticed an increase in clients since the cash crises in India?
We were averaging about 4000 sessions a day on our site about 30 days ago. Now we’re averaging about 12,000 visitors a day. That’s a 3x increase. We’re not complaining.
Do you think India is prime for a boost in Bitcoin user adoption and why?
Absolutely. Bitcoin is similar to digital gold and India has both a large gold market along with a huge IT sector. India also has the world’s largest remittance market, also making it a great reason for adoption as it can be used to bring money into the country for freelance work, etc.
Security and ease of use are two major barriers towards user adoption, how does Unocoin plan on solving these issues?
We take many measures to ensure that our client funds are safe. Namely, we utilize cold storage, which is the process by which you store private keys offline, along with multi-signature to keep funds safe. We also have mandatory 2 factor authentication for our clients and many other things that we do to ensure security of funds.
We spend a lot of time and resources on ensuring that our platform makes bitcoin super useful and powerful. For example, you can now top up your mobile phone, or book a flight ticket, or even a movie ticket with bitcoin in India because of partnerships we’ve established.
Bitcoin in India is selling at a high premium, why aren’t more people in India taking advantage of this arbitrage opportunity?
The premium will subside over time. It exists today because there is a high demand for bitcoin in India today vs the limited supply. Compounding the problem is the fact that there are strict capital controls in India.
The price premium does however, make it beneficial for foreigners abroad to send money back home to India by leveraging bitcoin because your loved ones will simply receive more. We also launched an API which enables companies around the world to facilitate remittance to India via bitcoin. Here are the docs.
Where do you see India’s blockchain user adoption in 2 years from now?
To the mooooon….