Alexander Höptner, chief executive of Bitmex, a top global crypto exchange, said if Indian regulators take a “progressive stance” on cryptocurrencies, the country could turn the needle for mass market crypto adoption globally given how fast the digital assets have grown in the last year.
In October 2021, blockchain research firm Chainalysis had ranked India second globally in crypto adoption.
“The combination of the strength of the economy, the demographics and technological prowess makes India an ideal driving force in mass crypto adoption,” Höptner said.
Despite a high 30% tax rate on crypto gains, global executives like Höptner are welcoming the tax proposals announced during the recent union budget, saying that it is a first step towards a more stable crypto regime.
“Is a tax regime the ideal way to regulate the industry? I don’t know. But it gives a stable framework to work upon, and the most important thing right now is that it removes uncertainty,” said Höptner.
Currently, in India, as in many countries like Russia, a tug of war is taking place between the central bank that is advocating banning cryptocurrencies and government ministries like finance and IT that want the country to participate in the new emerging Web 3.0 economy.
“Central banks are thinking that if something goes wrong, they will be blamed. The other ministries feel that if we are too restrictive, we will probably strangle a new economy that’s rising. I think everybody is waiting for an economy of a size and importance, like India’s, to actually take a final step on that one,” he said. “We desperately need a CBDC (central bank digital currency) as a stable coin. That could be the next natural step.”
Critics of cryptocurrencies have been vocal, saying that the digital assets don’t have any intrinsic value and many even equate the cryptocurrencies to ‘ponzi’ schemes.
Höptner said because the crypto movement is outside the traditional financial system, it unnerves the custodian banks.
“When you look at a lot of classical financial investments, government bonds, etc., of certain governments … look at the last Lehman crisis. Was there anything of value behind it? I really doubt it. Is every financial instrument that you can currently trade in the traditional world really beneficial to investors and the wider economy? I doubt it,” he said. “I think the big thing is that there is a new potential financial economy rising outside of the classical system. And the classical system is not really sure how to cope with this. Currently, the monetary system is under the control of the central banks and the global financial system. The crypto movement is outside of that — and that’s the issue.”
Is Bitmex, which has a small investment in India’s CoinDCX, looking to enter India if there is regularity clarity? “India is a very interesting market for us. We want to have the right approach to India. Clear regulations and an opportunity to work together with a regulator would be a good point to start with,” he said.
Bitmex recently came out with a crypto trends report that made bold predictions about the 2022 crypto market. It said more women will join the crypto movement, Solana will have an upper edge over Ethereum, crypto gaming will explode, investors will move towards stable crypto products, and there will be a jump in traditional finance and crypto acquisitions.
“2022 can be a game-changing year for crypto on many fronts,” Höptner said.
According to him, cryptocurrencies are just the right investment tool for small investors, especially in countries like India, as investors don’t need large sums of capital to get in and people with small sums of money can invest in the coins.
It is a mass-market investment vehicle that enables people to invest at a lower risk with fractionalised investments on a global scale. very appealing to the younger generation,” he said.
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