Regulatory pressure from India’s foremost financial body, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has forced ZebPay, one of the most well-recognized cryptocurrency exchanges in the Asian nation, to set up shop in Malta.
ZebPay Sets Up Shop In Malta, The Blockchain Island
In April, the RBI enacted measures to force the dissolution of banking relationships between financial institutions and local crypto exchanges. Once the ban went into full effect in July, all cryptocurrency platforms in the nation lost access to banking services, which disallowed exchanges from accepting Indian Rupees.
India’s cryptocurrency community, who was obviously angered by this ban, appealed to India’s Supreme Court in September. Although this appeal showed promise, the hearing is still ongoing, likely delayed by the sluggish nature of centralized systems.
While crypto-to-crypto exchanges are still permitted, the number of active Indian traders has plummeted, with volumes all but drying up. Moreover, the number of consumers entering the Indian cryptocurrency space has fallen to 25,000 a month, which is a far cry from December 2017’s 300,000 new users.
Sadly, the deflating cryptocurrency scene in India has catalyzed ZebPay, a local startup, to shut down its exchange operations, issuing the following comment on September 28th:
“The curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customers’, ability to transact business meaningfully. At this point, we are unable to find a reasonable way to conduct the cryptocurrency exchange business… As a result, we are stopping our exchange activities.”
However, it is apparent that ZebPay is trying its best to bounce back, with Quartz India reporting that the startup now has a registered office in the small island nation of Malta, widely regarded as the world’s go-to blockchain region. This Maltese office will likely complement the startup’s existing Singapore location, which was established in March of this year.
ZebPay is reportedly in the early stages of setting up a second exchange, which will be available in 20 countries, none of which are India. According to Quartz, ZebPay’s new platform will be available to traders in the following countries:
- Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden.
It isn’t clear if the startup intends to re-enter the Indian market if regulation shifts, but ZebPay has likely made the right move by expanding its horizons to European investors, who are still looking for easy-to-use, cheap, secure, and multi-functional crypto platforms.
Bypassing The Reserve Bank of India’s Ban
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for India’s crypto scene, as one of the nation’s foremost startups has just launched a cryptocurrency ATM (CATM) program.
In a testament to the perseverance of diehard crypto advocates, Unocoin, has recently installed its first CATM in Bangalore, a city of 12 million individuals. Unocoin’s CATMs, which support Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, along with dozens of other crypto assets, are slated to be installed in two other Indian cities.
So, for the first time in months, investors in this emerging asset class will finally be able to cash-in and cash-out of this budding industry.
Title Photo Courtesy of Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash