Unocoin, Bangalore-based Bitcoin start-up has raised $1.5 million a record high for any cryptocurrency venture in Indian history. But while the founder’s vision is to scale Bitcoin to the masses and address a largely unbanked nation. Along with Max Keiser, founder of Bitcoin Capital and broadcaster, Messrs Dixon and Keiser are among domestic Indian and international venture investors in this fund raise. It includes lead investor Blume Ventures, headquartered in Mumbai that played a key role in leading Unocoin’s Pre-Series A round, Adam and Tim Draper’s Boost VC, Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group,Mumbai Angels, ah! Ventures, and FundersClub in San Francisco. Digital Currency Group (DCG), which is based in New York City, supports Bitcoin and blockchain companies by leveraging their insights, network and access to capital. For DCG, their latest investment in Unocoin joins the US-based investor’s global portfolio of Bitcoin and blockchain companies spanning over 80 investments in more than 25 countries
Bitcoin adoption is skyrocketing in India. But then given that is the second most populous country on earth with a population accounting for 17.5% of the world total (1,267,401,849 as of July 1, 2014), it might not come as such a surprise. With Unocoin being the leading bitcoin operator in India, it might appear well positioned to capture expected growth in this market. Addressing the role of Bitcoin in the Indian economy, Bitcoin Capital’s Dixon, stated: In India, 95% of the people do not have credit cards and 50% are unbanked due to the country’s poor financial and payments infrastructure. In relation to the investment, Keiser, who is also StartJOIN’s founder, remarked: Unocoin is leading the charge when it comes to bringing bitcoin to India. The capital raised will primarily be allocated towards scaling out Unocoin’s business. It is understood that they plan to make a few strategic technical hires, make investments into technical infrastructure and further investing for security. Unocoin CEO and co-founder Sathvik Vishwanath, who has over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience building software systems in the financial and virtual reality industry, reflecting on the origins to the Indian bitcoin startup explained, They started from my small hometown called Tumkur near Bangalore. Their goal from the beginning was to make it easy to get bitcoin in India.
India has the largest gold, inward remittance, and IT markets in the world, all of which make it a perfect home for Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Vishwanath, asserts that they have a clear vision at Unocoin “Let’s Make Money Simple” and indicated to Forbes that they are currently adding c.5,000-10,000 new customers each month on their platform. According to Karthik Reddy from Blume Ventures, it was the belief in the team at Unocoin that encouraged Blume to participate. Blume Ventures expresses confidence that Unocoin will further alter the landscape and make additional inroads into remittances and e-commerce in India. Commenting on their investment in Unocoin, Harshad Lahoti, Founder and CEO of Ventures, who is at the helm of four companies in the financial services and consultancy space, they believe Unocoin will continue to be one of the strongest players in India’s booming crypto-currency market. Sunny Ray, co-founder and President of Unocoin, who has over 15 years of experience in business development in the robotics and financial industries, explaining the motivation for the startup said: they started this company four years ago with the mission to bring bitcoin to billions. Bitcoin opens up a world that simply wasn’t possible before.
In the future, Unocoin believes that bitcoin has the potential to take market share from gold, substantially reduce the cost of remittance and potentially bank the un-banked. Furthermore, Unocoin were the first Bitcoin company in India to implement a comprehensive compliance and banking like framework to address these challenges. Over the past year, the firm has been innovating swiftly. Evidencing progress, recently they launched a merchant point-of-sale (POS) app, a mobile trading app, an auto-selling feature for remittance users, systematic investment planning (SIP) to mitigate against volatility risk, integration with NETKI to simplify Bitcoin addresses, created an over the counter (OTC) desk for large traders, integrated with purse.io for discounts on Amazon, API for developers amongst other initiatives.