Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Nischal Shetty has made a name for himself in India.

  • I'm probably one of those first-generation entrepreneurs in crypto.

  • In the first half of 2021 alone, his crypto business has grown more than 12x to become

  • the country's largest digital currency exchange.

  • If you were to consider the beginning of 2020, it would be, I think, 15-18 times.

  • Sending his crypto token soaring.

  • 1x to 2x growth I was expecting.

  • But I think it grew by 7, 8x or 10x at one point.

  • That was crazy.

  • Now he's set his sights on making WazirX India's first billion-dollar crypto unicorn.

  • So how does a coder from Mumbai do it?

  • WazirX is a cryptocurrency platform from India that allows users to buy, sell and trade popular

  • virtual coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.

  • Founded in March 2018 by then 32-year-old coder Nischal Shetty, the company has capitalized

  • on the rising tide of retail traders investing in cryptocurrencies.

  • Less than two years after its launch, WazirX was acquired by Binance, the world's largest

  • crypto exchange, for an estimated $5-10 million.

  • Then, in April 2021, the WRX crypto token temporarily reached a billion-dollar valuation.

  • But while Nischal is a tech entrepreneur through and through, the millennial's foray into

  • cryptocurrency was initially inspired by a rebellion against big tech.

  • There's always a reason why someone gets into crypto.

  • As a young boy growing up in Mumbai, Nischal was fascinated by computers.

  • He went on to study computer science in Mangalore city in the southwestern region of India.

  • But when he began experimenting with coding alongside his day job as a software engineer,

  • he quickly became frustrated with the dominance of western tech giants.

  • My first start-up was all about social media management.

  • So, if you had your Twitter account, your Instagram account, you could manage it from

  • a single place.

  • While the app, later renamed Crowdfire, took off, Nischal and his co-founders Sameer Mhatre

  • and Siddharth Menon, could see the landscape was changing.

  • By 2017, social media companies were becoming more restrictive with their APIs, or

  • application programming interfaces, making it harder for third-party developers to synch up their apps.

  • Nischal decided it was time to change tact.

  • Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, they started monetizing.

  • And they decided to change the rules of their development ecosystem and that affected my

  • start-up because you had to cut down quite a few features that were creating revenues

  • for us but that was not seen as the right features by these networks.

  • And this is what led me to the whole decentralized ecosystem.

  • Because if you look at crypto and blockchain, as a developer when you build something,

  • no-one's going to come and tell you you cannot do something.

  • It's a decentralized ecosystem, there's no owner behind it.

  • The timing coincided with a boon in cryptocurrencies, in particular bitcoin.

  • So, in 2018, he created WazirX as a platform to make digital currency trading more accessible.

  • I tried to buy bitcoin myself in India and I realized there was a large gap in the way

  • international exchanges operated versus the way Indian exchanges operated.

  • It took me about a week to buy my first bitcoin in 2017, and by the time I bought that,

  • the price had already shot up. And that was frustrating.

  • And I realized that while I could build a blockchain project, someone has to first solve

  • the problem of onboarding people onto the decentralized ecosystem.

  • The crypto exchanges are the gateway or the ramps.

  • And, with that, we decided we should build an exchange focused on the Indian ecosystem.

  • Where other platforms faltered under a ban by the Reserve Bank of India on crypto-related

  • payments, WazirX quickly pivoted, acting as a third-party custodian between buyers and sellers.

  • That savvy shift paid off and the following year, in November 2019, the company was acquired

  • by Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, as it made its first foray into the Indian market.

  • While it started as an investment discussion, we soon realized that our goals aligned.

  • Binance is that one company which has grown really fast in a very short period of time,

  • despite all the regulatory uncertainties globally.

  • So apart from money, what I saw was how do you learn how to hyperscale, especially in crypto.

  • That was the biggest highlight that led this discussion from financing to acquisition.

  • Today, WazirX claims its registered users have quadrupled in the 2nd quarter of 2021

  • to hit 6.5 million users while trading volume in June reached $6.2 billion.

  • This explosive growth comes as retail and institutional investors piled in.

  • We've signed up more users in the last four, five months than we have in the last three years.

  • That's been how rapid the growth has been.

  • Cryptocurrencies have recorded a meteoric rise over the past year, capping out

  • at a total market capitalization of over $2.5 trillion in May.

  • In India, it is predominantly led by the retail investors, and it contributes to

  • close to 5 to 6 percent of overall market capitalization.

  • That's Ganesh Vasudevan, research director at IDC Financial Insights.

  • He explained more.

  • There is a novelty and a fad associated with it, and that is quite tempting for investors.

  • There is a convenience involved in it.

  • The exchange platforms which have come out with the applications seem to be extremely

  • convenient and super-efficient.

  • Nevertheless, the industry has been facing increasing pressure internationally as authorities

  • weigh concerns that it could be aiding tax evasion and criminal activity.

  • In June, WazirX owner Binance was banned from undertaking any regulated activity in the

  • U.K. in the latest sign of a growing crackdown on the global cryptocurrency market.

  • They're indecisive how to treat this asset, whether it is a currency or a commodity or

  • any other asset category.

  • WazirX, for its part, has been caught in the midst of a continuing crypto debate among

  • Indian authorities, leading Nischal to team up with other exchanges to jointly engage

  • the country's top financial decision makers.

  • Where is regulation headed, only time will tell us.

  • But the good thing is India usually follows what most of the large economies globally

  • follow.

  • And when we look at the U.S., the EU region, the kind of direction they're taking, which

  • is one of regulation rather than a ban, I think that makes us more hopeful that India

  • will follow a similar approach.

  • Especially with the pandemic and the lockdown that has happened here, I think it's going

  • to take some time.

  • But it's definitely going to regulation rather than a complete ban or a negative atmosphere

  • for the product here.

  • All this as the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining comes under renewed scrutiny.

  • It is estimated that the mining of bitcoin alone consumes more than 60 terawatt-hours

  • of electricity per year, more than the annual consumption of electricity in countries such

  • as Switzerland and Singapore.

  • Once the focus is brought into the efficiency or the climate impact, there are going to

  • be efforts to optimize that space.

  • Still, Nischal says there's plenty of scope for the industry to empower people in countries

  • like his own.

  • In June, WazirX became South Asia's first marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

  • in a bid to help creators across India trade digital assets such as artwork and music.

  • If you look at the history of India, one of the largest reasons for our rapid economic

  • progress has been software.

  • Now, if you look at crypto, crypto is an extension of that whole software ecosystem, so India

  • completely understands that we cannot miss this opportunity.

  • Today, you have investors coming in, you have VC funds, you have start-ups being created,

  • I think all of this is adding to a very positive outlook.

  • With all that at play, the future path for WazirX, and crypto more broadly, is set to be bumpy.

  • But after the ups and downs Nischal has weathered over recent years, he says he's ready for an exciting ride.

  • Our mission has been to make crypto accessible to everyone in India, and I think we are still

  • very early in that.

  • We've reached six-and-a-half million users, the industry has about 15 million people.

  • But I believe India has the potential to get 100 million people into crypto and our journey

  • has just started.

Nischal Shetty has made a name for himself in India.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 crypto india ecosystem cryptocurrency exchange indian

WazirX: How this 36-year-old coder built India’s biggest crypto trading platform | CNBC Make It

  • 1 0
    Summer posted on 2021/07/06
Video vocabulary