Even though the naysayers continue to harp on how the digital asset industry is one big bubble waiting to collapse, there is no denying that crypto adoption has continued to thrive over the last couple of years, even in countries where one would least expect.
A perfect example of this is India, where a local exchange called Unocoin — which was founded back in 2013 — is now allowing locals to swap their Bitcoin (BTC) in exchange for vouchers that can allow them to buy pizzas, ice creams, coffees, and much more.
Buying Everyday Goods with Crypto
And while the entire scheme sounds quite straightforward on paper, as per a statement released by the company, the implementation is going to be carried out in a step-by-step manner initially, especially because exchanging crypto for consumer items in India requires a lot of regulatory clearances.
For those unaware, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — the nation’s central banking authority — had issued a blanket ban on the local digital currency market back in 2017, a decision that was eventually revoked by the Supreme Court on grounds that it was unlawfully actioned. However, since last year, the current government has once again hinted, time and again, at the possibility of initiating another such ban.
Therefore, Unocoin’s decision to come forth and allow Indian citizens to utilize their crypto for everyday purchases just goes to show how popular digital currencies are becoming.
A Closer Look at the Development
A spokesperson for Unocoin recently revealed that as part of the exchange’s latest venture, the company will allow users to employ Bitcoin worth ₹100 to ₹5,000 ($1 – $70 approx.) in order to obtain vouchers that can be redeemed for a host of items later on.
To further elaborate on the matter, it has come to light that Unocoin’s native smartphone app now features a ‘Shop’ button through which users can spend their vouchers in exchange for items being sold by prominent local outlets including pizza-retail giant Dominos, Indian coffee chain Cafe Coffee Day, ice cream manufacturer Baskin Robbins, amongst others.
Additionally, Unocoin’s app will henceforth feature dropdown menus for all participating merchants, providing prospective buyers with different INR denominations along with their corresponding BTC value. In regard to the entire development, Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder, and chief executive officer of Unocoin, was quoted as saying:
“While there are tens of thousands of physical outlets and e-commerce portals accepting Bitcoin as a mode of payment in countries like the US, our country doesn’t have such acceptability yet. Our offering answers the popular question of where someone can spend bitcoin in India.”
That said, it should be highlighted that only Unocoin users that have undergone the necessary know-your-customer (KYC) and AML verification procedures will be given the option of buying the above-said crypto vouchers.
India’s Crypto Sector is Expanding at an Unfathomable Rate
A few years ago, Indian crypto trading platform Zebpay too had started allowing users to spend their crypto in lieu of a range of products via one of the country’s leading e-commerce retailers, Flipkart. However, the move was short-lived as Zebpay encountered various regulatory hurdles that put a halt to the company’s expansive crypto vision.
Not only that, just days before Unocoin’s above-stated announcement, another local exchange CoinDCX announced that it had been able to secure $90 million in funding, making the firm India’s first crypto unicorn — with a total valuation of $1.1 billion. In fact, the fundraiser was spearheaded by a number of major players including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Last but not least, it should be noted that as per a study released by blockchain analytics provider Chainalysis recently, crypto investments flowing into the Indian crypto ecosystem have grown from $0.9 billion to a whopping $6.6 billion over the course of the last year alone. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how things playout for the market from here on end.