Two months after the crypto crash, the virtual currency market is showing signs of stability with the price of Bitcoin, the oldest and the most popular one, hovering around the $20,000-mark for weeks now. In India, crypto exchanges, facilitators, and investors are adapting to new tax rules and operational guidelines. With talks of an existential crypto crisis mitigating, tech entrepreneurs and developers who are in the Web3 space are once again becoming hopeful.
According to industry leaders, India has played a key role in the Web2 space globally. While Web 2 are websites and applications that make use of user-generated content like Facebook and Wikipedia, Web3, at its core, uses blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to give power back to the users in the form of ownership of digital assets. Thoughthese are early days, there are indications that Indians will once again play an important role in the development and growth of Web3, metaverse, and the blockchain space, say industry experts.
ENTER YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
In India, 80% of the Web3 developers are under the age of 30 years, significantly younger than the global average, said a survey by Kucoin, a Seychelles-based exchange. “Unlike around the globe, in India, crypto, metaverse, and NFT (non-fungible tokens) are popular and desired fields for a Web3 career,” it noted.
According to industry experts, India is also expected to have a large number of retail crypto customers and the most Web3 developers in the world. This gives Indian entrepreneurs a vantage point, which needs two enablers: Government support and a quick rollout of the 5G network that can handle high-speed data transfer.
KEEPING HYPE FACTOR ASIDE
“The immense growth opportunities are also attracting other enablers to service India-centric needs in this space. Earlier there were no protocol companies out of India which were operating in the Web3 space,” said Rajesh Dhuddu, global head, blockchain & metaverse practice, Tech Mahindra. “Now at least there are companies like Polygon whose protocols are made in India. ” Second, the startup activity in the Web3 space is very high. There are startups in India, which are “not only developing identity solutions, they’re also developing NFTs, virtual assets and (related) stuff. ”
“Indians are open to exploring newer techs and see how it’s relevant, keeping the hype aside. (Unlike a few years ago), people have realised that Bitcoin is not the only commercial application of blockchains. There are other applications like digital identities, zero-knowledge proofs, passwordless identification and related works which are on blockchains,” and there are Indian startups in these areas, Dhuddu said.
So what facilitated this surge in Web3 and crypto adoption in India? Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder, CoinDCX, agrees with Dhuddu that one of the strong enablers was
the startup ecosystem in India, which is very robust. “When it comes to the developer base, India is in the top three globally. And the quality of developers is also very high,” Khandelwal said. Inaddition, “despite some regulatory hurdles, lots of investments have happened,” he said.
Industry experts, however, feel that the challenging regulatory climate still puts a damper for the growth of Web3 and crypto spaces. They feel the government should take a decisive stance relating to these areas.
According to Khaleelulla Baig, founder, KoinBasket, a crypto investment enabler, India has all the right ingredients to be a global leader in this space. “However, the hawkish stance by the government is hindering growth of the crypto tribe and pushing high-quality entrepreneurs and developers out of the country,” Baig, who recently shifted to Dubai from Bengaluru, said.
Another development that could help in the adoption of Web3 and crypto usage, is the growth of metaverse. “The rollout of 5G could unlock the potential of tech including metaverse,” said Gaurav Mehta, co-founder, Catax, a crypto accounting startup.