Millennials pull crypto out of the shadows in India: Andy Mukherjee

(Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. This column first appeared in Bloomberg on October 18, 2021)

  • In hundreds of India’s small cities and towns, a generation that has hardly had any experience with stocks and bonds is heading straight for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and Solana. The average age of the 11 million users of CoinSwitch Kuber, a cryptocurrency trading app that didn’t exist 18 months ago, is 25, and 55% of them are from outside large metropolises like New Delhi or Mumbai. Widespread acceptance of digital tokens by millennials and Generation Z is helping the industry step out of the shadows, a far cry from 2018 when the cofounders of a crypto exchange were briefly in police custody for daring to put up a kiosk in a Bangalore shopping mall where people could swap their Bitcoin for money. Now trading is all very public, and highly visible. CoinSwitch Kuber has signed up a popular Bollywood youth icon for an ad campaign with the tagline, “Kucch toh badlega” — something will change. For CoinSwitch, which started out as a an aggregator of best real-time prices for digital assets around the world, something already has. In 2018, the fledgling venture couldn’t play on its home turf because India’s monetary authority had instructed banks not to entertain customers who dealt in virtual currency. It was only in March last year that the Supreme Court overturned the ban. CoinSwitch, whose app was released in June, acquired 11 million customers in 16 months. Investors took notice of the startup: It recently became the first in the country to raise money from Silicon valley venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz, at a valuation of $1.9 billion…

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