The union finance ministry has banned banks and financial institutions to use Bitcoin in India. This was a bad news for people who were the part of bitcoin network as they could no longer buy and sell bitcoins unless they had an overseas account or an overseas relative or friend who could do the transaction on their behalf.
To overcome this challenge and problem cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin has now opened a Bitcoin Kiosk in a mall in Bengaluru which works like an ATM. This Kiosk can be useful for Indians to buy and sell bitcoins.
India’s first Bitcoin ATM in Bengaluru, which is provided by ATM-maker NCR, is like the regular bank machine but with some modifications. The debit and credit card slot in the machine has been disabled as the Indian banks and financial institution have been banned from supporting the cryptocurrency system.
Customers of Unocoin and its unit Unodax can easily deposit or withdraw the cash between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 per transaction per day. The denominations for transactions will be Rs 500 note. The customer can buy other cryptocurrencies through ATM with his account balance.
Unocoin deals with the ethereum cryptocurrency, while its other unit Unodax deals with other cryptocurrencies like ripple and litecoin. Sathvik Viswanath, CEO, and founder, Unocoin said: “We have a customer base of 13 lakh users and we are hoping that this will ease the pain points of customers after the ban.” Before the ban, Indians could use bitcoins for multiple purposes, including to buy gift cards on Nafa.in, buy books, music CDs, games at Padma Book House, and buy bus tickets.
After the Ban Indians could only use bitcoin when they are overseas such as in countries like Japan where bitcoins are used to pay for meals, flight tickets, and movie shows. Bitcoins are also used to buy goods and other stuff on global websites such as Ali Express. Some tech websites in India also use Bitcoin to pay freelancers for gadget reviews.
Any kind of Bitcoin transactions is mediated through the crypto exchanges. People who are buying Bitcoins mainly view them as an investment, hoping to cash them when the value of Bitcoin rises. According to Unocoin founder Sathvik Viswanath, his platform has seen 18% user growth since the Bitcoin was banned in India.
According to him, “The finance minister’s statement was very clear. Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say illegal tender. There’s a huge difference. It only means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry.”
Earlier Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had said in the Budget speech, “The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.”
Unocoin, which was founded in December 2013, said the next few kiosks will be set up in Delhi and Mumbai.
“We rebranded it as a kiosk after we realised people were mistaking it for a regular ATM and trying to withdraw money from it,” Viswanath says.