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The increasing popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India has led to multiple exchanges operating in India. The latest exchange to be launched is Coinome, which is backed by BillDesk, one of India's leading payment services companies.
In the field of digital payments, BillDesk is a household name in India. It was founded in 2000 by a team of ex-Arthur Andersen professionals and its payment services and processing network are used by many financial institutions. Two of India's leading public sector banks - State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda have invested in BillDesk. BillDesk is a participant under the Payments and Settlements Systems Act, 2007 and is supervised by the Reserve Bank of India. The entry of BillDesk-backed entity into the cryptocurrency space shows the increasing legitimization and mainstreaming of Bitcoin in India.
Coinome has plans of rapidly scaling up, starting from two cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash) and supporting more than 20 cryptocurrencies in one year. The company plans to leverage BillDesk's capabilities in the payments space to promote cryptocurrencies and attract customers.
Vivek Steve Francis, the CEO of Coinome said:
“At Coinome, we are excited to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses. India, with a limited number of exchanges supporting multiple cryptocurrencies, offers immense opportunities. In the next one year, our target is to support up to 20 popular cryptocurrencies and promoting the same within Indian masses as commercially viable alternatives for building their digital assets. BillDesk’s expertise in secure online payments will support Coinome in promoting cryptocurrencies as viable avenues for investments, transactions and building digital assets.”
Coinome promises fast know-your-customer (KYC) verification, for those user who provide their aadhar number. Completion of KYC verification is compulsory for those who want to deal in fiat (Indian Rupee). Given that there are only two currency pairs traded on Coinome (BTC-INR and BCH-INR), KYC verification is compulsory for all its customers. By submitting aadhar number and confirming the one time password sent to a linked mobile number, customers can complete their KYC verification instantaneously. While using aadhar number to complete KYC verification is convenient, it is ironic that an intrusive government registration program is being used in a domain where pseudonymity is the norm.
Bitcoin is a popular investment option for young Indians and cryptocurrency exchanges are flourishing in India. However, neither the RBI nor the Indian government have made their stance clear on the use of Bitcoin in India. The threat of the government banning the use of cryptocurrencies in India hangs over the industry like the sword of Damocles. A committee which was set up by the government to analyze cryptocurrencies, has reportedly asked the government to ban the use of all cryptocurrencies. The lack of clarity over the status of Bitcoin even resulted in a petition being filed in the Supreme Court, asking the government to provide clear guidance. Unless the government takes a firm stance, cryptocurrency exchanges will hesitate to expand their operations in Indian government.
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