Cryptocurrency gets a boost as India’s gen-next takes a shine to it

Digital coins capture the imagination of small-town youth who grew up with video games and easily embrace technology

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As investor interest grows, the crypto exchanges are upping the ante with successive funding rounds and sizeable ad campaigns.

Less than 4% of Indians invest in the stock markets, and just around 15% of the total transactions in the country are estimated to be made digitally. Yet, cryptocurrencies, still regarded with scepticism and suspicion in even the richest economies, are finding themselves in the limelight in India. This is thanks mainly to the fact that these digital currencies have caught the imagination of the nation’s millennials.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and Solana, among others, are the buzzwords for an entire generation of Indians from small cities, who grew up in households where bonds and equity investments were unheard of, said a Bloomberg report. According to the report, 25 is the average age of the 1.1 crore users of cryptocurrency trading app CoinSwitch Kuber. What’s even more interesting is that 55% of the app’s subscribers are from non-metros, the report noted.

Global trends

The national trend is in line with the global one, wherein millennials are proving to be the biggest adopters of cryptos. A survey by consumer insights provider Piplsay revealed that 49% of millennial respondents owned cryptocurrency. In contrast, just 38% of GenX and 13% of GenZ respondents held digital coins.

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“Millennials are growing natively with Web 2.0 (mobile) and Web 3.0 (crypto) technology,” Kurt Kumar of crypto payment processing firm Rocketfuel Blockchain was quoted as saying. “They intuitively understand digital wallets and treasure chests, which are part of many games younger millennials played, such as Fortnite and Minecraft.”

The Bloomberg report pointed out that the rapidly growing adoption by India’s youth is helping the crypto industry emerge from the shadows. This comes after particularly tough years for the industry, hit hard as it has been by regulatory ambiguity and widespread confusion among users. They were banned at one point. In 2018, the co-founders of a crypto exchange were held for putting up a kiosk in a Bengaluru, recalled the report.

Legal and ‘cool’

Now, crypto trading is not only legal, but is also considered ‘cool’. A MoneyControl report noted how young investors sometimes burn their fingers with crypto exchanges (the fraudulent ones). Yet, the experience does not put them off. Instead, they read up on the new investment avenue ­— both the technology and the legalities — and emerge richer for the experience. Sharpening their crypto investment skills, they often take to offering advice to other early investors as well, the report said.

As investor interest grows, the crypto exchanges are upping the ante. Many have gone for successive funding rounds, deploying some of the capital in investor education as well as in marketing and advertising campaigns. For instance, CoinSwitch Kuber has roped in Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh for its Kucch toh badlega (‘Something will change’) ad campaign, noted the Bloomberg report.

Realising that there is a regulatory vacuum in the crypto space that may harm their operations, many players are opting for self-regulation. “We’ve decided that we’ll show our faces,” Bloomberg quoted Ashish Singhal, one of CoinSwitch’s three co-founders, as saying. “Even if regulation harms our business in the short run, it’s better than being forced to operate in a grey area with little certainty and not much room for growth.”

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