Indian cryptocurrency exchange CoinDCX raised 6.70 billion rupees ($90 million), leading to a valuation of $1.1 billion.
The funding round led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group has made the exchange India’s first crypto unicorn. Other investors included Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Block.one, and Jump Capital.
Co-founder and CEO Sumit Gupta said he will use part of the funds to increase headcount. For instance, he plans on doubling his team over the next six months to about 400 people in India. Investments there grew from some $923 million in April 2020 to nearly $6.6 billion in May 2021, according to Chainalysis data.
After spending several hours a day reading about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Gupta established CoinDCX in 2018. The exchange, currently at 3.5 million users and registered in Singapore as Primestack Pte., aims to expand its user base to 50 million over the next few years. It also plans on offering new products for wealthy individuals in the coming months. Gupta highlighted that his platform would focus on educating users on crypto and blockchain.
Despite the country’s regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies, Gupta believes India has what it takes to achieve dominance in the space. “We have a very tech-savvy population, good mobile penetration, big base of engineers and developers who can leverage blockchain technology,” Gupta said. He is confident that India can produce more than 100 crypto unicorn start-ups in the next few years.
India’s crypto conundrum
The investment comes as policymakers continue to debate the status of cryptocurrencies in India. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India banned financial institutions from engaging with cryptocurrency-related businesses. This prohibition was overturned in the spring of last year. However, policymakers have drafted legislation banning private coins, while the debate rages as to what to do with cryptocurrencies.
Amid this indecision, the crypto market in the South Asian subcontinent continues to flourish. Although there are no official figures, industry sources estimate there are 15 million crypto investors in India holding an amount worth over 100 billion rupees ($1.37 billion). Meanwhile, the four biggest crypto exchanges in India saw daily trading volumes jump from $28.6 million a year ago to $159 million, according to CoinGecko.