It all started in late 2012 when Mahin Gupta started India’s first Bitcoin exchange, buysellbitco.in, and made it most trusted and used exchange in India pioneering online purchase of Bitcoin in the country and voted as best new bitcoin company at CoinAgenda conference in Las Vegas in 2014. Later in September 2014, Buysellbitco.inwas was rebranded to Zebpay — a bitcoin wallet. In 2016, the company announced that it had crossed a whopping ₹100 crore (~$15 Million) turnover milestone.
Everything was going well with Zebpay, one of the first to usher buying Bitcoins in India, until one silly day India’s central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned banks from servicing crypto exchanges/wallets.
Despite the ban, Zebpay has survived and was up and running by introducing Crypto-to-Crypto trading but all gone in vain as on Friday, the crypto exchange Zebpay announced that it is shutting down after the long fight the exchange has given to prejudiced and pessimism about cryptocurrencies in India.
In its official blog post, ZebPay officially announced that it was forced to stop activity due to legal and regulatory obstacles.
“Despite regulatory and banking problems along our journey, we continued to look for solutions as we did not want India to miss the bus of digital assets that power the public blockchain,” said the blog post of Zebpay.
It further said, “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. At 4 p.m. today (28 September 2018), we will cancel all unexecuted crypto-to-crypto orders and credit your coins / tokens back to your Zebpay wallet. No new orders will be accepted until further notice.”
In a statement to Crypto-News India, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zebpay Ajeet Khurana, said “The Indian environment is highly non-conducive to the crypto business. Our revenue model is only through transaction fees. So by shutting the exchange, we have effectively made our revenue zero. Naturally no company would want to do that if it has a choice.”
Notably in February 2017, Zebpay along with other bitcoin startups in India — Unocoin, Coinsecure and Searchtrade, jointly launched Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) for the orderly and transparent growth of virtual currency market. It however didn’t resulted into anything fruitful and nothing substantial happened in DABFI apart from the fact that in November 2017 the self-regulatory body eventually merged with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the internet industry body. The new merged entity is called as ‘IAMAI FinTech Council’ however even after this no new development has been heard since then.
Ironically, in January this year, a nationwide survey revealed that people in India have invested in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies worth whopping $3.5 billion. Seeing this, income tax (I-T) department had even sent notices to tens of thousands of such people who have done trading in any of the cryptocurrencies.
Zebpay’s might have lost its fight, but still there are quite a few Indian cryptocurrency exchanges up and running work without interruption and seek new solutions such as Peer-to-Peer transactions. These companies include WazirX, Koinex, LocalBitcoins, Unocoin, and many others.