Global cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain ecosystem, Binance, today, has announced its acquisition of Indian cryptocurrency startup WazirX. With the acquisition, Binance will now start offering the option for users to buy and sell crypto with Indian rupees (INR) on the Binance Fiat Gateway from November 25 onwards.
Speaking to Inc42, Nishchal Shetty, stated that it’s a landmark moment in the Indian cryptocurrency industry, as it’s the first time that such a leading global exchange has acquired Indian cryptocurrency startup. This will fuel more resources to the Indian cryptocurrency industry, according to Shetty.
Shetty also told us he would continue leading the cryptocurrency exchange as well as the P2P globally.
Binance said its users will be able to directly place orders on the web platform or the Binance apps to purchase Tether (USDT) against INR. This integration will allow users to trade any digital asset available on Binance.com with the purchase of USDT from the WazirX digital asset marketplace.
Commenting on the acquisition, CZ (Changpeng Zhao), Binance CEO said, “The young demographic in India give an edge to adopt and build new financial technologies, and I believe this will play a vital role in making India a global blockchain innovation centre to also spur cryptocurrency adoption throughout the larger public in the country. The acquisition of WazirX shows our commitment and dedication to the Indian people and strengthen the blockchain ecosystem in India as well as another step forward in achieving the freedom of money.”
WazirX’s native token WRX has been available to the community through trade mining and signups, and the press release on the acquisition said a token sale is under consideration. The statement also said that about 64K users hold WRX.
“Building fiat-to-crypto bridges remain a key mission for Binance, and WazirX will help this by providing a simple and cohesive way to purchase cryptocurrencies in a country which is home to more than a billion people,” said Wei Zhou, Binance CFO.
Interestingly, Binance had told us earlier this year that it would focus on startups in Asia with its third season of the Binance Labs incubator programme. The company said it would hone in on startups related to blockchain BEP 2, gaming, decentralised finance, layer 2 scaling, governance tools and decentralised apps from Europe, Asia and North America, as well as stablecoins, payments, remittances and trading infrastructures from Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Speaking to Inc42 at the time of the announcement, Binance Labs head Ella Zhang said, “The first and second season of incubation programmes attracted a lot of European and North America engineers. They value the Asia community a lot. They wanted us to come to and build up a base in Asia, especially to cater to China, Korea, Southeast Asia and India.”
Binance-WazirX Deal Amid Cryptocurrency Logjam
However, as the Indian policy on cryptocurrency is largely tilting towards a ban, it will be interesting to see how Binance tackles the situation when most of the Indian cryptocurrency exchanges have shut down their services.
Shetty stated that the committee’s (Interministerial committee) recommendation is not the last word, and given the fact that Indian government has chosen not to introduce the bill this winter session, it’s indeed a welcome move.
“Fiat ramps play a critical role in deciding the size & adoption of cryptomarket. Binance has all the major traders in the world and WazirX has tried and tested technology for next-generation peer to peer exchange, together we can drive mass adoption across the globe by solving fiat ramps,” said Siddharth Menon, WazirX COO.
Earlier this year, the India-based startup Matic Network successfully fundraised via the blockchain on Binance Launchpad and another project, Marlin Protocol, secured a USD$3 Mn seed round from Binance Labs, the investment arm of Binance. Binance X, an initiative to foster innovation in the Binance ecosystem has begun its grassroots efforts to stimulate blockchain development and support in India with its recent event in Bengaluru to invite participation for its fellowship program to the Indian blockchain community.
In addition, Binance licenses its matching engine and wallet technologies to several partner platforms, including Binance Uganda, Binance Jersey, Binance Singapore and newly launched Binance US, which offer fiat-crypto trading functions across a variety of currency pairs.