India opens its first Bitcoin Exchange

13 May, 2015

As bitcoin continues to evolve globally, the first fully compliant Bitcoin Exchange has opened in India.

BTCXIndia, which features a wallet service as well as a live trading platform, marks significant strides in the virtual currency's progress. The service was launched last year in the city of Hyderabad and has continued to thrive.

What BTCXIndia has to offer

The exchange is actually not the first such of its type in India, but it is the first to be completely compliant. Previous bitcoin exchanges in India were overshadowed with some level of regulatory uncertainty due to warnings from the government combined with a series of raids on bitcoin businesses.

With a primary goal of educating Indian consumers about virtual currencies and how they work, BTCXIndia is designed to provide customers with a trading platform that is completely secure, compliant, and transparent.

Among the major benefits offered by BTCXIndia is the level of security it offers to customers, a topic that has proven to be particularly important to consumers in the past few months. The Indian-based exchange maintains the majority of its bitcoins in cold offline storage as a way of ensuring that customer funds are completely secure. While security is always an important feature, it has proven to be even more so in India due to uncertainty related to the government's approach to the digital currency.

A history of regulatory issues in India

This has largely been due to regulatory confusion regarding bitcoin in India. Among the first bitcoin exchanges opened in India was Unocoin, based in Bangalore, which opened at the end of 2013. The startup later announced it has raised $250,000, becoming the first bitcoin merchant processor and exchange in India to attract international funding.

While the exchange had initially stated its plans to become completely compliant with all regulations, within days a warning was issued by the Reserve Bank of India stating that Unocoin as well other such exchanges did not have the proper approval for operation. Those warnings resulted in Unocoin and all other exchanges to cease offering services.

Unocoin was not the only such exchange to suffer from regulatory uncertainty and government raids., based in Ahmedabad, was also raided, while CoinMonk, an information service, was targeted by tax officials. Eventually, Unocoin was relaunched.

Although bitcoin has rapidly become a popular method for conducting financial transactions and even storing wealth around the world, India has proven to be a rapidly emerging population for the digital currency. Home to more than one billion people, India offers the perfect demographics for the emergence of bitcoin as a popular method for financial transactions. Approximately half of India's population either has no bank services or is considered unbankable. Combined with the presence of a strong tech industry, India appears ideal for bitcoin to emerge as a preferred financial technology.

The sheer size of India's population alone is enough for the country to become poised for large-scale acceptance of bitcoin, but the country also has a number of other factors in its favor. Among those factors is the fact that India boasts the tenth largest economy in the world and has the third largest economy in Asia.

To date, India's acceptance of the digital currency has been somewhat slow; however, that is likely due to the fact that the Reserve Bank of India remained unsupportive of bitcoin. While the RBI has grudgingly allowed bitcoin operations, it has also been quick to caution investors about risks related to the use of bitcoin.

With the introduction of the first fully compliant exchange in India, the country is now set to experience what could be a full bitcoin revolution.