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Indian government’s demonetization move to boost bitcoin adoption, Says Unocoin CEO
In a historic move, the Indian government banned currency notes of 500 and 1,000 denomination in order to crack down on corruption, fake currency notes, and tax evaders and to bring unaccounted money back into circulation.
The demonetization move was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. The debate is still on regarding the effectiveness of the move to achieve the intended results, as people rush to banks to exchange/deposit the now scrapped currency notes.
Will this ban boost bitcoin adoption in India? Sathvik Vishwanath, CEO of Unocoin, India’s leading bitcoin company, believes so.
“I believe the adoption rate and bitcoin trading in India will dramatically increase. This will not happen overnight or within a week, as Indians are currently recovering from the shock of the discontinuation of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Once everything is settled, I am predicting an upward trend starting from next week”, Vishwanath told EconoTimes.
Vishwanath said that while it is hard to foresee the long-term effects of this move, he strongly believes that it will help purge black money and eradicate India’s current parallel economy.
Blockchain or distributed ledger technology can go a long way to help the Indian government in its mission. As defined by IBM, a blockchain network is a decentralized system for the exchange of assets, which uses a shared ledger (that is either public or private) for recording the history of electronic business transactions that take place in a peer-to-peer (P2P) business network.
Initially, the use of this innovative technology was limited to digital currencies such as bitcoin, but now companies across multiple industries including banking, insurance, real estate, trade finance, equities and others are increasingly exploring blockchain use cases for revolutionizing their operations.
Commenting on blockchain implementation in the Indian landscape, Vishwanath said:
“Tractability, transparency, accountability, and automatic tax collection are the added advantages that blockchain technology would bring. Not being able to counterfeit money is also in line with the government's mission”.
However, he pointed out that the current level of awareness about this technology is very limited in India. Vishwanath added:
“Blockchain awareness in India is little, and even fewer know about bitcoin itself, but it is growing fast. We have barely scraped the surface of educating Indians on blockchain technology and its benefits, but that’s one of the things Unocoin is trying to achieve. It is important people understand the technology behind blockchain to fully take advantage of its perks”.
Founded in 2013, Unocoin became the first Indian Bitcoin start-up to be funded internationally in August 2014 with an investment of US$250,000 from Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group. More recently, the startup raised $1.5 million in a pre-series-A round, drawing support from Digital Currency Group, Boost VC, Bank to the Future, Bitcoin Capital and FundersClub as well as from national entities including Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels among others.
Earlier this month, the company announced the implementation of its first-ever, easy-to- access Application Programming Interface (API) allowing companies world over to access the world’s largest potential market for bitcoin and to take advantage of Unocoin’s extraordinary set of features. When asked about future plans, Vishwanath said:
“Our main focus right now is developing a sturdy infrastructure for Bitcoin in India, and removing the complexity out of the technology to make it an easy on ramp to bitcoin for a common man”.