Cryptocurrency has been on the rise in India for quite some time, and it’s easy to see why given all of the benefits it offers. From remittances to income generation, India is clearly set to benefit from the cryptocurrency trend, as more crypto-related products and services are made available in the country in the future. However, innovation in this sector wasn’t always this fast-paced.
Going back a few years, the Reserve Bank of India had effectively outlawed cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, prohibiting regulated organizations from providing services to any individual or business dealing in digital currencies. The action had a demonetization-like effect on cryptocurrencies, which implies that crypto aficionados no longer had the ability to perform any trade or exchange involving crypto, at least in the open market.
The move came as a massive blow for the budding cryptocurrency community in India at that time, forcing almost 50-60 crypto startups to shut down. The few exchanges that were servicing the community at that time were either forced to close their doors or had to relocate.
The Start of a Revolution
Amidst all the chaos, the only person that did not give up hope was Nischal Shetty, the young entrepreneur, leading the popular cryptocurrency exchange WazirX. With Shetty’s innovative approach to the problem, introducing a completely peer-to-peer market in the scene, WazirX was able to endure the entirety of the ban, while also giving the cryptocurrency community an opportunity to continue trading cryptocurrencies without any legal implications.
However, that wasn’t all. On 1st November 2018 – ten years after Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper, Nischal started the #Indiawantscrypto movement. A simple hashtag that represented the hopes of millions of Indians eager to catch up on the crypto-mania. The goal was simple, let these voices be heard at a national level.
Instead of choosing to attack the government, Nischal advocated for constructive rules. Every day, he tweeted to MPs, the Prime Minister, and other decision-makers with the hashtag. He even reached out to former Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley, asking him to trust the youth of India and allow them to participate in the crypto revolution.
The hashtag was soon raking in millions of engagement, having been tweeted by over 1.5 million people by its 100th day. The trend wasn’t about to stop, and Nischal wasn’t ready to give up, despite not getting any answers from authorities for months.
Finally, more than 300 days later, cryptocurrency enthusiasts could see a glimmer of hope. Upon calling out Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Nischal finally got a response. The minister agreed to get in touch to discuss the crypto scene with Nischal. By the one-year anniversary of the campaign, more than 10,000 Indians were a part of the campaign and Nischal had already met with a few lawmakers. The crypto industry was slowly coming into the spotlight.
The biggest victory for the crypto community came on March 4th, 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of progress, decentralized currencies, and freedom. Banking channels were opened for cryptocurrencies. By this time, WazirX was already making headlines, especially after being acquired by global crypto exchange Binance, and WRX, was the most discussed new coin on Twitter in March.
The domestic press was ablaze with coverage of the positive Supreme Court decision: The Economic Times, Quartz, Business Quint, and Business Insider were all among the publications to report on it. Meanwhile, Financial Express made a clear reference to the #Indiawantscrypto campaign.
But the regulatory struggle in India was far from over. Fast forward to February 2021, when rumors surfaced that India’s parliament had introduced a crypto bill titled “The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021” – causing concern in the Indian crypto industry.
This is exactly when the true power of the #indiawantscrypto movement came to light. The 822 days old crypto movement was trending all over Twitter for more than 24 hours, and people tweeted and shared this hashtag, in support of innovation in this area. Finally, the cryptocurrency community stood in unison against the rumors that were dealing great damage to the economy that had started to flourish.
The one simple hashtag finally went viral as another major milestone was hit by Nischal. WazirX joined hands with CNBC TV18 and cryptocurrency became a part of the television world in India. This allowed the promotion of cryptocurrency education to millions of viewers in India.
Following this, India started witnessing an influx in cryptocurrency investments as more people started understanding the emerging asset class. The results were largely visible, a July report from Cryptocurrency research and analysis firm Chainalysis, revealed Cryptocurrency investments increased from around $923 million in April 2020 to almost $6.6 billion in May 2021.
In addition, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, went on to clarify the doubts pertaining to the Crypto Bill 2021. She stated that the government is still formulating its opinion on cryptocurrency and will take a calibrated position.
Now, as the #Indiawantscrypto movement hits the 1000 day mark, one can’t help but celebrate as the community has come a long way, thanks to the one man who sparked the fire. We believe the journey isn’t over yet, and great things are yet to come.
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