It was nine years ago in 2008 that the world was introduced to a new cryptocurrency called bitcoin that ended up changing the cryptocurrency game forever. Invented by a cryptographer by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the digital currency that allows people to perform peer-to-peer transactions without taking in the help of any third party such as the banks gained instant popularity after its launch. Bitcoins nine year journey so far has been full of ups and downs, while some countries like Bangladesh, Bolivia and Ecuador have banned the digital currency stating security and privacy concerns, other countries like Australia and Japan are in the midst of regulating the same.

So, where does India stand on bitcoin? This article aims to make you aware of just that.

When it comes to India, bitcoin is still in its nascent stage in the South Asian country. Though not yet recognised by the country's government, but the bitcoin industry in India is still seeing an increasing growth in number of bitcoin players as well as users. According to experts, the increasing acceptance of the digital currency is fuelled by the surge in its value. The year 2017 especially has been a good one for bitcoin so far as its value touched an all-time high.

In January, the cryptocurrency surged pass the $1,000 mark for the very first time in a period of three years. In May, it bet this record and crossed the $1500 mark, and became the more valuable than gold. In June, the combined market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies all around the world crossed the $100 billion milestone.

Some of the Indian players that are trying to make bitcoins an integral part of every Indian's life are as follow:

Name: Zebpay
Location: Singapore
Founders: Sandeep Goenka, Saurabh Agrawal, Mahin Gupta

Claiming to be India's largest Bitcoin exchange, Zebpay began its official journey in 2015 when it launched itself as a Bitcoin wallet. Though the founders initially expected people's interest in India to be low, but they were pleasantly surprised at what they saw. In May this year, Zebpay announced that its app has reached the milestone of five lakh downloads, and is now adding more than 2500 users every day. As of today, the app has more than seven lakh downloads.

The company, which has raised a whopping $1 million in a round of funding in January last year is aiming to surge pass the 1 million downloads mark by September 2017.

Name: Unocoin
Location: Bangalore
Founders: Sathvik Vishwanath, Sunny Ray, Harish B V, Abhinand Kaseti

Claiming to be India's most popular and leading bitcoin company, Bangalore-based Unocoin enables Indians to buy, sell, store, use and accept bitcoin. Starting its journey in July 2013 with a mission "to bring Bitcoin to billions”, Unocoin is considered as India's first entrant into the bitcoin space.

Commenting about the future of Bitcoins in India, Sathvik Vishwanath, one of Unocoin's co-founder's said to TOI, "Technology always precedes regulation. There were no cab-sharing guidelines before Uber. It is after the disruption and its impact on lives that the government has to look into the issues and decide if it needs regulation."

The startup, which currently has 2.7 lakh users, raised funding of $1.5 million in a Pre Series-A round last year in August from multiple investors including big names such as Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels and Ah! Ventures along with Boost VC, Bank to the Future, Bitcoin Capital, FundersClub and Digital Currency Group.

Name: Bitxoxo
Location: Telangana
Founders: Mohammed Rizwan

Claiming to be world’s first company to launch Bitcoin Pre-Paid Gift card, Bitxoxo is a one-stop destination for Buying, Selling and Gifting Bitcoins. Driven with the motivation of making people more aware about bitcoins in India, Bitxoxo conducts seminar and workshops on Bitcoin in Colleges, Universities and Companies throughout the country. The startup currently has over 10,000 users, and the founders are currently involved in talks with various investors in order to expand the business and their presence.

Name: BTCXIndia
Location: Hyderabad
Founders: Siva Kameshwara Rao

The startup has built an XRP wallet and exchange providing real time trading of crypto tokens and INR and operating at the highest levels of security and reliability. Launched in 2014, Rao got introduced to the world of bitcoins when he was trading in forex markets. However, Rao didn't stop at bitcoins, he shortly launched ETHEXIndia, India's first marketplace for Ethereum Tokens. According to Rao, "While bitcoins account for over 40% of the cryptocurrency market, if the current trend continues, it will be Ethereum that will take the number 1 spot."

While cryptocurrencies are witnessing a high acceptability in India, India's central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI) earlier this year urged the users of virtual currencies in the country to be extra cautious while engaging in any digital currency-related activity. RBI has always been sceptical about bitcoin usage in India as it is currently not regulated in the country. In fact, the Central Bank has always made it opinion on Bitcoin known to the Indian citizens. In 2013, it had said that it was closely following the developments relating to “Decentralised Digital Currency” or “Virtual Currency” (VCs), such as Bitcoins, their usage or trading in India.

Following the RBI notice earlier this year, India’s leading bitcoin startups — Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure and Searchtrade came together and jointly launched Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) for the orderly and transparent growth of virtual currency market.

[Top Image: India Bitcoin]

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