As cryptocurrencies take initial steps to enter mainstream in India, several new startups which are joining the bandwagon are facing talent crunch and a lack of government regulations. For Ashish Singhal, Cofounder and CEO at cryptocurrency exchange platform CoinSwitch Kuber, he is looking to not only scale a crypto company in a fast-growing tokenised world but also contribute towards building an entire industry.
In a fireside chat with Shailesh Lakhani, Managing Director at Sequoia India, during Day 1 of Inc42’s Crypto Summit, Singhal said that the three pillars of crypto are: users, innovators and the government.
“The government use of blockchain technology is expected to grow rapidly. India missed out on Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 but innovators will take Web 3.0 solutions built on blockchain from India to the world,” Singhal said.
“Next Google or Facebook based on blockchain technology will come from India. Crypto and blockchain will bring more and more Indians into their fold, with real use cases, and the government will support those use cases. Over a billion people will be connected to the crypto ecosystem,” he added.
Singhal said he is looking to embrace a tokenised way of work but, at the moment, is not thinking to launch own tokens. “At present we are not looking at launching our own token. But over time when we have a lot of clarity on the regulations, we will issue our token,” he said.
According to Lakhani, the crypto momentum is great in India and young startups are very promising in the field.
“Teams that were working in big companies have gone deeper into crypto. The quality of talent that is migrating from companies like Flipkart and Amazon and others into the world of blockchain is amazing. Best engineers are now working in crypto space,” Lakhani said.
He said that unlike with equity, crypto founders can bring more people into their ecosystem and community with tokenised system.
“Traditional fintech and financial services companies and startups now want to offer crypto to their customers. Decentralised finance, or DeFi will be a game changer in India,” Lakhani said.
One area in cryptocurrencies attracting a massive attention is DeFi. This refers to financial services using smart contracts, which are automated enforceable agreements that don’t need intermediaries like a bank, and use blockchain tech instead.
Lakhani said that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also gaining popularity in India and “we are seeing people from cricket to Bollywood joining the bandwagon”.
Singhal also admitted that talent crunch is currently staring at blockchain-based crypto exchanges and startups. “Finding the right set of people is hard for Blockchain-based startups. We face shortage in this space and are hiring from Israel and the US to build top-layer security. Over time, we will find the same talent in India too,” he added.
Crypto investments are also coming from small-town India and Singhal is seeing 60 per cent users coming from tier 2 and 3 cities which are mobile-first generation.