'WazirX Is Focused On Promoting Blockchain And Crypto Education Among Indian Youth' Nischal Shetty Founder & CEO, WazirX
Crypto is a very new technology and every government is still trying to understand and learn what it is, so the Indian government is also somewhere on the same path but the good thing is that the government has started talking about it.
Give us a quick recap about WazirX. How was the Covid Era for WazirX? How the revenue of the company is going on and how was the overall journey so far? We’ll start with that.
WazirX is a 3-year-old company. We launched in 2018 and the first two years I think have been eventful, in terms of, if you follow this page called 2018 banking ban by the RBI, that was the time when we innovated and we grew as a company but 2020 was the whole year when our business really grew rapidly. The pandemic is one reason and the other reason was the lifting of the ban by the Supreme Court. It sort of happened at the same time. 4th of March 2020 is when the Supreme Court lifted the ban and I think around 20th or 24th March is when India went into a lockdown. Now India going into a lockdown, what exactly happened was a lot of people who were sitting at home and had extra time on their hands, started learning about crypto. This is not just an Indian phenomenon but a global phenomenon where the number of people learning about crypto exponentially increased and what we’ve been doing as a company, one of the main things is to spread education about crypto. We’ve been partnering with different education startups. I’ve been personally talking about crypto tweeting about it and that has also helped us build a brand while people were learning about crypto. So if they’re learning about crypto, and if you’re in India it’s hard for you not to come across WazirX.
So this whole enthusiasm of people to learn crypto started pushing people into signing into WazirX and that’s how we started seeing a massive surge in number. Just to give you some numbers on this drive; I think we signed up about 5 million-plus users in the last 9-10 months alone, currently, we are 8 million users and if you look at our trading numbers, it has grown more than around 2648% plus in terms of our volume, and when I say volume it means the amount of crypto trading on our platform on a monthly basis. So we used to do less than 100 million dollars last year during the pandemic and today we do more than 3 billion dollars a month so it has shown exponential growth and I think we’re the largest exchange in the country, well ahead of every other exchange. I think this is where we are, happy to answer around this but the pandemic has sort of helped us to grow, I’ll say and it has helped the crypto industry to also grow. One important thing I want to make sure you are aware of this, at least the last 6 to 8 months, we’ve seen rapid growth, in fact, faster growth from the tier 2 and tier 3 cities compared to other cities.
Tell us about your offerings? How is it different from the other platform that is offering the same thing as you are offering?
I think when it comes to financial products like WazirX or any other crypto-related business the difference is not so much in the offerings. It’s like in a bank, if you have an account in any bank whether SBI or Kotak you will have access to the same financial services ultimately. Similarly in crypto exchanges what happens is your core is to trade in crypto, its buy and sell and that’s not going to differ. What is going to differ is, one, the trust you have on the platform and today WazirX is the most trusted crypto exchange in India and that is one of the most important reasons why maximum people in India choose WazirX over other platforms because they trust the exchange. The second is the quality of service that you get as a user, and that we excel. We have the best ratings in terms of our customer support and service. We’re probably the only exchange in India today that not just offer you email support but also chat support and phone support. So we’re always available to our users in terms of support. The third is the whole education part that I said, usually what happens is we as an organization don’t only focus on acquiring customers, we also focus on teaching them and helping them understand about crypto so that sort of helps people choose WazirX as a platform, as there first platform as they come, and in terms of product, we have the top-rated products so it shows the quality of the products we have. So it’s a much more stable and well-made product compared to any other product in the market. So these are some of the differentiating factors I would like to say.
If we look at government policies and the government reactions on crypto so what’s your take on that? Is the Indian government supportive when it comes to crypto as crypto is contributing a lot to the Indian economy right now? It says that crypto is contributing around 1.5 crores Indian holding over 15 thousand crores of crypto assets. Crypto will contribute to our 5 trillion economy vision. So what is the take of the Indian government on the overall crypto thing?
I think it’s early to say not just only for India but around the world. Crypto is a very new technology and every government is still trying to understand and learn what it is, so the Indian government is also somewhere on the same path but the good thing is that the government has started talking about it. Now one year ago nobody from the government spoke about it but just this year our finance minister spoke about crypto and quite a few other leaders, in parliament also there has been a lot of questions about crypto. If you see in media, there is no media outlet in the country today that has not covered crypto. So we’ve gone a long way ahead as a nation when it comes to this new technology. We’ve started talking about it and I see that as a very positive step towards regulation. And the thing about regulation is if you look at the history of India or any other large country regulation takes a long time. Look at the internet, it is still not completely regulated. So it’s going to take time but the good thing is that we already have the involvement of the government, we’re already seeing that. Our lawmakers want to understand what this technology is and how to regulate this, the media is talking about it the banks are talking about it. Positive or negative the good thing is we’re all in it as a nation and that I think is a good step forward. So I’m very optimistic. So this is what happens new technology starts with confusion and misunderstanding, which happened to the internet also and eventually you learn it and understand it and then you get to regulate it properly. So that’s the path we’re on as a nation I think.
So if we acknowledge the literacy day everyone around the world or in India is keen to know more and more about crypto, how to excel in crypto exchange or trade? So do you have any plan to set up a platform where people can come and learn about the crypto exchange or do you already have a platform where potential future investors can learn about trading?
So what we do is, one, we create a lot of materials on our blog on our Youtube channel that we have, we also have associations with various other outlets like CNBC, Money Control and everywhere else where we create content and apart from that we have partnerships with a various educational startup which are focusing on crypto educations so it’s just not focusing on building content but we also partner with other startups that want to create education materials around crypto. So this is a two-way approach, do it yourself also and help others who are trying to do this. So that we can overall grow the understanding and knowledge of crypto in India. So we’re doing both partnerings as well creating.
Do you think the government should also start doing some programs to educate the younger generation, not just about crypto but all the trading systems?
Yes, absolutely I think it’s a part of financial literacy. If you think about it how do you financially educate. And I think in India the penetration is very low of financial education. The good thing that has emerged from the crypto is, most important, the largest demographic of people in crypto is 22 to 30 year age. Now what that means is the youngsters are taking up the whole financial education.
Traditionally what people thought it was the older crowd who got into financial products and services and the younger generation was busy with studying and taking up a job. So crypto shows that the younger generation just wants to understand what financial literacy is and how to start investing earlier. The second thing is its interesting and maybe that’s why so many people are joining it because younger people love interesting things. And the third most important is crypto is 24/7. Now, this is probably the only financial market where you don’t have to worry about working during your work hours, after your work is done at 6 or 7 pm, you can sit and trade because this is 24/7 you can trade your whole night. So that is attracting people and I think the government should see it as an indicator that the young generation wants it. Very similar to 10-15 years ago with the internet where youngsters used to spend a lot of time on the internet. So this should be introduced not just how the government is pushing for this but it should be introduced in the curriculum eventually. If the internet was in the curriculum 20 years ago we would have been far ahead on the internet even where we are today. I would definitely suggest, push, hope that the government introduces crypto formally in our education. In fact this is happening abroad in some countries
Coming back to what you said about coming back from your job at 7 pm and then also you can trade. Now there are many people who are leaving their jobs to become an investor. So what’s your take on this, is it a wise decision to take a job and leave a job to be an investor.
Now how I see this is as a job switch. Both are jobs. If you find a better opportunity than what you are already in then you tend to move on and that is what is happening. People are seeing this as a job where they get paid. The good thing is its flexible so if you think of the worldview it always prefers flexibility. Now there’s work from home where so amazingly we can mobile, we can move anywhere, along with that the trading makes it more flexible, we can work anytime and we can enjoy and do other stuff so that’s one of the biggest reasons why the new generation is open to taking up this as a full time work as opposed to a traditional mindset where we need a 9-5 job. So I think its just the reflection of what the younger generation wants and that is flexibility and freedom and I think crypto is one of those sectors, or one of those few sectors which gives you the flexibility that you can work whenever you want however long you want and any time of the day and from anywhere, all you need is an internet connection so that’s the thing which is really attractive for people switching over this
Considering the high-risk factor that crypto is seeing, do you think it’s a wise decision to leave your job over this?
I think I would not be for or against anyone decision personally for two reasons. There are people who do make money from trading because they understand this system so for those people it’s a no brainer to move because obviously they will be making a good amount of money but there are people who are new to this and not be experienced enough, so for them it would be prudent enough to wait and watch, take it easy since you have the flexibility of working in the evening don’t quit your job in the beginning, try and learn and see how you progress and maybe then take a decision. So this is not about flipping up and deciding its about where you are, are you able to obtain a steady income from crypto trading for about several months despite having a job and working part time so then they’ll be motivated to say if they quit their job and do this full time maybe they’ll earn even more . So it’s a decision based on data verification
So if we talk about WazirX, what are the new products in the pipeline, the NFTs, decentralized exchange, you guys are about to launch this product and the option feature so could you tell me about the product you’re about to launch on your platform?
So what we learned a few months ago was the NFT platform where people are using it and we are improving it. What we are about to launch is the decentralization exchange. Decentralization exchange is similar to current exchange. The only difference is that in the traditional WazirX exchange you have to transfer the crypto to WazirX for you to be able to trade which is called a custodial exchange, what that means is if you want to buy bitcoin you come to WazirX to buy bitcoin and its stays with WazirX till the time you want to withdraw it, like your bank where the possession of your money stays with the bank. Now in a decentralization what happens is similar to where you take out your money from the bank and saying I will manage it on my own. So that is what is a decentralization exchange is where you can keep your bitcoin with yourself and not with WazirX and keep it in your personal wallet but still trade with WazirX. The reason we did this that we saw there were some people who were happy with WazirX taking custody of the assets but there were other people want to use WazirX but also keep custody of their assets so for them we are launching this decentralization exchange. There are other projects we are launching which I won’t be able to talk now but as we get closer to the launch we’ll definitely be able to tell.
What is the current situation in India for crypto exchange? what do you think of the future of crypto trading?
it’s a lot like the early days of the internet, while you can see the potential it’s hard to predict the direction it would go and what would be the outcome. If somebody told me that I would be able to live my entire life without leaving my house and on the internet I would not have believed maybe 10-15 years ago. But today in the lockdown we all survived thanks to the internet. I think I am in a similar belief when it comes to crypto.
In the future things, we wouldn’t have imagined would happen. The reason why it’s is making me so positive is that for the first time we all get to be a part of a financial system that is single all around the world. Think about your financial systems before, the traditional ones which are restricted to the country. Now you have crypto which there is no country restriction no geographical restriction so that is going to happen is there is going to be on world one financial system and that’s very exciting and that will all help us to grow. It’s like the traditional financial system is like the Ranji trophy where we are playing local and now suddenly you get to play internationally in crypto. So very fun for India to also participate and go ahead in this technology
while you have mentioned that women from tier 2 and tier 3 cities are more a part of this trading system, so what is your take on this?
It’s a very positive signal that way while it’s not really huge in terms of percentage it’s still male-dominated unfortunately but I think the good thing it’s about starting from ground zero for anyone male or female, because it is a new technology, So I believe this gives an equal opportunity to participate which also maybe the reason why we are seeing female participation also secondly it gives the flexibility like I said work anywhere this gives the opportunity to be in crypto in any time of the day or night so this is again the flexibility that crypto offers is attractive to a lot of the female population I believe and which is what is seen in rise in their participation in crypto.
While I still believe its early I believe crypto will see the participation of female the kind of participation the internet has seen. With the internet we don’t bother about the women’s participation because we know they are on the internet but when we think of traditional finance we worry because there is not much of participation there. So I think what is going to happen is that crypto is not going to replicate the traditional financial distribution of the male-female ratio but more of the internet distribution. And the internet distribution is fair, not askew in terms of women’s participation. So I think that is the direction the crypto markets will go and that is simply because its 24/7, its gives you flexibility and you can use it anywhere you just need a mobile phone and an internet.
Everything new is high risk and anything new and innovative. The only thing you can aware in to take a cautious step, don’t go all in, educate yourself. It’s a new opportunity, and since it’s new you don’t have to worry about someone being there.
Would you like to give some advice to the young investors about how to navigate fraud risks and how to protect your digital currency from hackers?
The most important thing that first-time investors should bear in mind is that crypto is a high risk, high reward investment option. You should invest based on your risk appetite. As an investor, it is your responsibility to do your due diligence. Before investing in a project, always read its whitepaper, about the team and their background, project development status, and team activity on social media.
While investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, please be mindful about the product you use. I’d strongly recommend using legitimate exchanges that follow KYC and AML guidelines. Like any other industry, it’s important to beware of get-rich-quick scams or people who promise to double the invested amount, etc.
Crypto trading attracting the interest of a whole new swath of the population since the pandemic. The need to design a new financial literacy.
As Bitcoin is becoming more popular, we’re witnessing more retail investors, and first-timers are entering the market. Spreading education and awareness around crypto are the need of the hour. As more people participate in crypto, it is also up to us as a community to educate people and make them aware of the safety practices to stay cautious! India has the youngest population in the world, and WazirX is focused on promoting blockchain and crypto education among Indian youth. We launched a Campus Outreach Program, with an aim to educate the students from various educational institutions across the country. We also have an Education Partner Program where we have partnered with ed-tech startups to train young professionals and students about crypto and blockchain.
Any recent partnership with any organization to improve the platform or to increase the awareness of crypto in India?
Nothing specific that comes to mind. There are some like CNBC, Money Control. We’ve been partnering on an ongoing basis with different organizations and we have constant deals coming in that they may have an audience listening to financial products and they want to help that audience learn about crypto because crypto is that new thing that everyone wants to learn. So we’re always open to such partnerships.
What are your future plans?
We have many plans to educate more Indians, and onboard them to crypto! This year, we launched South Asia’s first NFT Marketplace. We have been working on building an AMM based DEX and we plan to launch it soon. We also plan to launch more passive-income generating features like staking soon. Moreover, we plan to add more features to make your trading experience more seamless.
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