Bitcoin can be risky business in India: Nilam Doctor, GreenCoinX

Physical bitcoins. Credit: Flickr/Antana

Canada-based cryptocurrency startup GreenCoinX recently received approval from Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency, to start operations.

GreenCoinX was founded in 2012 by Nilam Doctor, who developed digital currency which is traceable and removes the anonymity that Bitcoin had become associated with. The company was earlier based out of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in India.

Doctor is now the president and chief technical officer (CTO) of GreenCoinX, with Daniel Wettreich, the chairman & CEO, leading the organisation.

Doctor is also the founder of Hitarth Consultants, a software consultancy firm focused on web based projects and digital currency, and a former CEO of Real Bitcoins, an India-based promoter of the crypto currency.

This portal had reported earlier that the company was in talks with investors to raise around $20 million. Doctor spoke to DEALSTREETASIA about his views on Bitcoin’s potential in India and the challenges it faces in becoming a mainstream mode of transaction:

How many merchants in India accept Bitcoin?

There are several merchants in the country including Reload.in, a mobile recharge platform and Unocoin, a bitcoin wallet which have partnered to bring bitcoin to the daily lives of individuals. Merchants currently on board with us include eTravel smart, an online bus ticket booking portal, Fashiondiva, and People Place, a training and recruitment firm, among others.

How many users of Bitcoin are there in India and what is the growth you expect?

In India, entrepreneur based in Mumbai and Bangalore, are accepting bitcoins at a rapid pace. In fact, India has a Bitcoin community of around 80,000 in which around 50,000 people actually own bitcoins. However, after a warning issued by the Reserve Bank of India that called bitcoins volatile and risky, many Bitcoin operators shut down indefinitely.

The growth in India will be mainly ruled by the government’s intervention on digital currencies, because bitcoin is still considered  as a channel for hawala, and money laundering and not for storing value. It will be very difficult to judge the growth of bitcoin in India. If a digital currency is identified to a person / company then its acceptance will be better in the Indian scenario.

Please explain ‘blockchain’ in common parlance. 

Blockchain is a chain of all transactions from the beginning till date. It is a ledger which has a public address and the values associated to the transaction. It always considers the balance computed from the previous transaction to find the available balance of an address. A transaction once complete is recorded as a new block and added to the chain of previous block of transactions, so it is named ‘Blockchain’. All transactions are irreversible.

For how much can someone buy a Bitcoin today?

The current price of bitcoin as per ZebPay is about Rs 27,000 per coin. We cannot access the market price of bitcoin for future.

The value of one Bitcoin has gone up significantly in the last three years. Do you expect that pace to continue? 

If it is accepted by more people and merchants accept it in lieu of cash/credit card, the number of transactions will increase and will surely increase the price of a digital currency.

What are the challenges to making Bitcoin transactions more mainstream in India?

To make bitcoin/digital currency mainstream in India, the government must be able to track back the transactions. They should be able to identify the user. KYC (know your customer) is a must for any company doing digital currency transaction. Without this, it will not see much light in India. At GreenCoinX, we have made digital currently fully identifiable, which enables the government to track all transactions. Inter-country transfers can be restricted, thereby curbing money laundering. India can be a pioneer in this field if the government is willing to harness the advantages of digital currency.

What should businesses do before implementing Bitcoin transactions?

Bitcoin is risky. Before you think of using bitcoin / digital currency please make sure that you do a full KYC of your customer. Your business should be legit and should be respected the same way.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.