Since the turn of the millennium, India has established on the world stage as a nation that embraces innovative technologies. It is this very reason that when Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin, expectations from the sub-continent were extremely high. However, what unfolded could rightly be termed as a series of broken dreams, which continued to get shattered day in and day out, with little to no moments to rejoice.
It is almost like a curse on the great nation that even after a decade of the advent of cryptocurrencies, it still struggles to find the true breakthrough, despite several odds being in its favor. Let’s take a look at some of the favorable factors which scream that India should be the biggest crypto hub in the world:
Large Number of Internet Users, Further Growing Rapidly
India is home to the one largest number of Internet users in the world. As of 2018, more than 37% of India’s population uses the Internet, which is roughly about 480+ million users, and that’s more than the entire population of several countries. This number is projected to grow to a whopping 660 million by 2023. More number of Internet users means that the probability of people using cryptocurrencies is higher, and in this regard, at least on paper, India is arguably the most fertile ground for crypto adoption.
A Young Population with Growing Digital Awareness
Cryptocurrency is a technology-driven concept, which makes it more appealing to a younger population. India has the highest number of people aged below 35 years, at 65%, while 50% are below 25. The average age of an Indian is around 29 years, the youngest among major economies. In simple numbers, about 870.7 million Indians are younger than 35, which more than double the entire population of the United States. Therefore, theoretically, more Indians should use crypto than any other country in the world.
Robust IT Sector with Enough Intellect to Serve the World
To construct a formidable industry, it requires a robust intellectual base, and thankfully, India has it in abundance as far as the crypto industry goes. The country probably has the highest number of computer engineers, and thousands of fresh graduates join the IT and software industry every year. Moreover, India is home to some of the biggest names in the global IT sector, like TCS, Wipro, HCL, Infosys, etc. Indian cities of Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Pune have emerged as the most preferred IT destinations in the east for MNCs, with IT hubs surfacing all over. This again proves that India is the hub the crypto community has been long waiting for.
In spite of having all the prerequisites for a booming future, the Indian crypto industry could never really take off. There might be several factors contributing towards the failure, but on most fronts, the Indian community had everything at its disposal. However, when the industry seemed to progress steadily, the “curse of failure” became apparent for the first time in 2018. Since then, the industry didn’t get a chance to recover, and the journey has been downhill for the most part.
First Curse – RBI Ban of April 2018
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the apex financial regulatory body in the country, released a circular in April 2018, directing the commercial banks in the country to prohibit from catering to crypto businesses from July. Resultantly, the entire crypto industry began to collapse brick by brick, as surviving without access to banking services became extremely difficult. Several crypto companies began to suspend operations, and the market came practically to a standstill.
Unfortunately, it was the ban came around the same period when Bitcoin saw its sensational fall after reaching an all-time peak of $20,000 in December 2017. This further weakened the case for the industry, as voices from all over the world began echoing that the crypto bubble has finally burst. Regardless of what others said, the Indian crypto community approached the judiciary and challenged the ban imposed by the RBI, along with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
Finally, after two frustrating years of a court battle, the Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of the community and directed the RBI to lift the ban. The entire crypto industry breathed a sigh of relief, and finally, the road seemed to be smoothening up. A blessing in disguise also came in the form of a banking sector crisis, which could have compelled users to check out crypto-based payments. However, the joy couldn’t last for long, and the cursed resurfaced in another, more deadly form.
Second Curse – Novel Coronavirus
The novel Coronavirus has shocked the world completely, spreading across in at least 190 countries. Apart from the source nation China, the situation has turned acute in several countries in Europe, and Italy, in particular, seems to be the worst hit. In total, COVID-19 has claimed more than 16,000 lives out of the 370,000+ infected.
However, regardless of the scale and physical impact, Coronavirus has added to the frustration of the India crypto community. Days after smelling victory in the legal tussle with the RBI, the community had to curtail further its dreams of a mega crypto adoption drive in the country, as 14 states in the country have already been put under lockdown, with curfews being imposed in major regions of Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. Sadly, these are the regions where most of the action in the technology sector happens.
India now has over 450 positive cases for COVID-19, out of which at least seven have died. While the entire country is under lockdown, the crypto industry has just lost an opportunity it hard-fought-for, which almost feels like baking the most delicious cake but not having the privilege to taste it, at least not yet!