Crypto in India — Past, Present and Future


It’s our immense pleasure to congratulate India and Indians for being a part of the future of finance globally as we just celebrated the 8th anniversary of India’s first Crypto Exchange and Trading platform, the Unocoin. India is currently the biggest market in crypto, especially Bitcoin. Currently, India holds up to 1.5 Billion dollars as crypto assets, making us the fastest growing crypto investors’ market globally.

India went through a roller coaster ride while dealing with crypto being such a volatile asset along with confusing regulations. Remember, India is among the most highly regulated countries in the world when it comes to financial transactions. Being not able to keep a track of transactions, every government had its own challenges, keeping the investors on their toes. A bill that was anticipated in the winter session of the parliament did not get presented and on the other hand, multiple ministers said that crypto is going to be regulated in India and not being banned. So the investors had a breath of relief along with the Indian Crypto trading and exchange platforms. Crypto, specifically Bitcoin made its significant debut in India in Dec of 2013, when the Indian crypto exchange, Unocoin was launched in December 2013. Let’s take a deeper look into all the challenges investors had to face from time to time, year-to-year in India, shall we? ..directly from the horse’s mouth that has seen it all!

Up to 2012- The world had seen bitcoin, its partner litecoin and a few other less serious cryptos out of which bitcoin was the King! Some used to mine bitcoin as that is the only way to obtain them in India. A few of the traders used to trade it to other coins on crypto to crypto exchanges like MtGox and Poloniex which were allowing transactions without KYC and that too for anyone and everyone around the world.

2013- Then comes the rocking year 2013! A bunch of meet-ups were being held about crypto-currency which made a lot of people curious about bitcoin. At that time, the price of Bitcoin was $417, roughly 20.6 k INR. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? In Dec 2013, Unocoin was launched, India’s first crypto trading and exchange platform. In 2013, iPhone 5S priced at 52k INR was also launched and in order to buy it, one had to shell out 3 bitcoin. This sounds today to a crypto enthusiast like one had to pay a fortune to get an iPhone.

It is also almost perfectly bookended by two RBI press releases on cryptocurrencies. The first, dated December 24, 2013, says:

  1. Virtual currencies are not backed by a central bank.
  2. Their value isn’t underpinned by an asset and thus a matter of speculation.

Such statements got issued 5 times in total over the next 5 years.

2014 — In the year 2014, India had approximately 8.5k investors investing in Crypto — all on Unocoin! Then comes ZebPay, another crypto exchange platform that was born in India, leading us forward to the future of finance. The price of Bitcoin was roughly $310, which is approximately 16.5k INR. In 2014, Apple launched the iPhone 6 which was roughly 62k INR. See the prices of goods and inflation doing the tango? But don’t lose your heart yet, Bitcoin will rise again. It was also the same year India successfully completed the Mars Mission.

2015- In the year, the price of bitcoin was roughly $424 which is approximately 27k INR. Wowww… Did you see that? That was the same year India saw major fluctuations in the prices of Petrol as well. The same year India’s Economic growth accelerated to 7.4%. At that time, the price of an iPhone was still around 62k INR, which indicates that the price of one iPhone was approximately 2.5 bitcoin. Hey, the people who had iPhones at that time.. are you still feeling rich?!

2016- In the year 2016, the price of bitcoin was roughly $952 which is approximately 64k INR. At this rate, bitcoin was doubling its value every year. Along with bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies were also getting popular like Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, etc. and the Indian Investors were getting more options to choose from and also the crypto investors community was on the rise. A few editors also mentioned that bitcoin was the best performer of the year and is ready for another bullish year.

2017- The year 2017 proved to be the beginning of the bullishness of bitcoin shooting the price all the way up to $20k which is approximately 1500k INR. The price of bitcoin was growing much more than the increase in the rate of inflation. The returns on bitcoin that year was 1600% which is insane. For 1 bitcoin you could get 14 iPhones. Everyone had their own high expectations of Bitcoin and a lot of scams started happening around the “Get Rich Quick” Scheme. The new concept of raising money through ICO got overexploited and millions of dollars were getting thrown at a simple idea or a white paper. Most of such projects never saw the time of the day. This was also the exact same year when Bitbns and CoinSwitch, the two other Indian Crypto exchanges started operating.

2018-Mar 2020- This period proved itself to be the darkest time in the history of the Indian Crypto Market. A cryptocurrency exchange named WazirX just had started. Then, RBI restricted the banks from providing services for crypto exchange and its customers in March 2018. Since then, for 2 years, Indian investors were restricted from trading in crypto as the liquidity of crypto assets to INR and vice versa were banned. Almost all exchanges were out of business as the rumours were that India will be banning crypto. Unocoin along with the IAMAI association was fighting for the rights of Indian Investors against RBI on the grounds of proportionality and affected human rights. To help restore the belief of people in crypto, a kiosk machine was also installed in Bangalore but that project was also shut down due to the misunderstanding of bureaucrats.

2020- The rising sun dawned again in the Indian crypto market when the restrictions imposed by RBI were taken off by the Supreme Court and crypto was again active in India in March 2020. By the time India could recover from the ban, the price of bitcoin rose all the way up to almost $28.6k, which is approximately 20 lacs INR crossing its all-time high from Dec 2013. This ban period turned out to be a huge miss of an opportunity for Indian Investors in the global market and India had to catch up.

2021- In the history of Bitcoin, 2021 was the most dramatic. The prices of Bitcoin went all the way from $34.6K to $68K. Now it is romancing between $48–52K. This fluctuation at such a scale resulted in multiplied growth of investors in India. Thousands of people are trading on a daily basis taking advantage of the bull that came this year. This bull also gave rise to hundreds of meme coins, some of which were short-lived. Out of these coins, many people made a lot of money while others were not so fortunate. And what is more to this happy ending? At the end of 2021, one could buy as many as 28 iPhones for one bitcoin!

Unocoin has seen it all- for being in business since 2013, Unocoin has sold bitcoins for as low as 11K INR in Jan 2015 and for as high as 55 Lakh INR in Oct 2021. So that is not a 500% increase but a 500 “times” increase in less 7 years enough to make a sensible investor scream “Scam!”.

For the new year 2022, there’s still hope that the bull run will continue and we see Bitcoin on top again breaking its all-time record of $68K, making every early investor feel victorious. Indian regulations also play a huge part in trading and exchange and in this year, may the regulations be in the favour of crypto traders and investors.

Unocoin wishes you a very happy new year and to have a great investing year ahead. May this year, the crypto market continues to boom. Nevertheless, the good old disclaimers still remain and we cannot pull “The End” card without r
eiterating them, else we would increase our followers. So here it goes: Trading and Investing in crypto assets like bitcoin are subject to various market risks. Investors should try to maintain a well-diversified portfolio of other assets along with their beloved cryptos. There is no excuse for not doing your own research before investing in crypto.

Happy New Year and Happy Holidays. “Almost the End” but ‘picture abhi baaki hai mere dost’.


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