One in every 10 bitcoin transactions in the world happens in India

Everyone wants a piece.
Everyone wants a piece.
Image: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
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In India, bitcoin is the people’s forbidden fantasy.

About 10% of the world’s bitcoin transactions take place in India, Constantin Papadimitriou, president of Pundi X, told Quartz. The Indonesian company, which focuses on offline cryptocurrency sales, surveyed 3,000 respondents across India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US to understand the rise of alternative currencies among mainstream consumers.

This enthusiasm would explain the Indian government’s concerns, given its refusal to recognise cryptocurrencies as legal tender and warnings against investing in them. It even compared bitcoin and the likes to a ponzi scheme. This push-back has forced Pundi X to put on hold its plans to launch a network of point-of-sales terminals in India to help people buy, sell, and transact in virtual currencies over the counter.

But Indians are generally more savvy than their government, with a majority of those surveyed being bullish about cryptocurrencies.

In fact, if given an opportunity and the means, a lot of Indians are ready to jump on to the cryptocurrency bandwagon. When asked what they’d do if handed $1,000, virtual currencies were trumped only by traditional banks.

Also, as more Indians warm up to the idea, virtual currencies other than bitcoin are catching investors’ fancy, especially since some of them have been offering higher returns than bitcoin.

Many of these investors wish to use cryptocurrencies to carry out other transactions, besides trading, but there are hardly any options available. This has forced people to hold on to these digital coins for longer, the survey revealed. This problem, however, is not particular to Indians.

In short, even with the people’s love, bitcoin’s journey to legitimacy will be an arduous one.