Coinbase, the world’s second-largest exchange by trade volume, has now made its crypto trading services available to users in India, the firm said on Thursday at an event in India’s tech hub Bengaluru.
The exchange’s app will now be active in the country. The onboarding on Coinbase would require setting up a UPI payment method developed by a coalition of retail banks. UPI (unified payments interface) is an instant real-time payment system allowing peer to peer and person to merchant transactions, which is regulated by the Indian central bank.
Right from the start Coinbase has faced significant troubles: “Purchases with this payment method are temporarily unavailable,” Coinbase’s mobile application said on Sunday. Coinbase reached out to the NPCI (the National Payments Corporation of India, which oversees UPI) after the UPI operator issued the statement saying it “is not aware of any crypto exchange using UPI”. Coinbase declined to comment.
Recently India has announced stiff new crypto taxes. The law includes a 30% tax on profits from crypto transactions and a controversial 1% tax deducted at source (TDS). Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, acknowledged the regulatory challenge in promoting the technology to mass acceptance at a time when enthusiasm has dipped due to the new tax law. “We know it’s not going to be a straight shot to bring this technology. We don’t know exactly how it’s going to evolve. But we’re committed to working with bank partners, regulators [and] most importantly, the Indian people because they’ve shown a real spark of interest in cryptocurrency, and there’s a real desire to get access to some of these services and products,” he said. The company notably did not disclose the names of its banking partners for the UPI payments rollout.
Despite these challenges the company is now making “a long-term investment” in India. Coinbase is already an investor in two of the largest local crypto exchanges in the country (CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX). The firm’s Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee said Coinbase has “invested over $150 million in over 10 companies in India”. Earlier this week, Coinbase announced its plans to quadruple the number of employees in India by the end of the year. “We have ambitious plans for India and seek to hire over 1,000 people in our India hub this year alone,” Armstrong wrote in the blog.