Interview with Ajinkya Kadam
Co-Founder @ Qoinup

We are launching the digital asset exchange, Qoinup, with the goal to provide our users throughout India with the means to trade Rupees against the major digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and others. We want to give more Indians access to cryptocurrency investment — an intelligent and safer alternative to investing in securities like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. At the moment there is a lot of misconceptions and uncertainties surrounding cryptocurrencies. Different countries are expected to pass different legislation, restrictions, and regulations on trading digital assets. However, the Indian Blockchain committee has clarified that cryptocurrencies are not going to be banned in India making it the ideal time to launch a cryptocurrency exchange specifically developed for the Indian market.
Hi Ajinkya! Could you please introduce your work with Qoinup and tell us a bit more about what led to your co-founding the company?
Hi, I am Ajinkya, I'm a co-founder of Qoinup. And to begin with the story of Qoinup, I would like to - before that, I would like to share with you: Qoinup is a cryptocurrency exchange which is based out of Singapore. We also have affiliated offices in San Francisco and India. And it is predominantly focusing on the Indian and, to a certain extent, on the Asian market. The reason behind forming Qoinup was, back in the days in 2017 and 2018, the cryptocurrency market was at a very nascent stage in India, and at that point of time we saw that there were only two or three forms of trading back then, in the Indian, within the Indian market and addressing the bitcoin concerns of the Indian consumers. The foreign firms were there, but the Indian consumer was not allowed to buy cryptocurrency - or it was not feasible, you know, sending money across all the way to American and the European exchanges was not possible for the Indian consumer to do that. And the local firms which was there were actually having a monopoly. And there were just three firms and they were charging like 20 percent to 30 percent premium tax time on the bitcoin prices, which were going around in the world at that time. So in order to solve this issue, and also to provide them with an international quality of *****, we decided that we are going to start an exchange of our own. I mean, we have access to the American markets, and we have a base in Singapore and San Francisco, so why not use that? And you know, create a value proposition for the Indian consumers, and so that the Indian consumer can actually buy bitcoins at prices which are at par with what the world is buying into. So yeah, that was the whole idea behind starting Qoinup.
Hi Ajinkya! Could you please introduce your work with Qoinup and tell us a bit more about what led to your co-founding the company?
Hi, I am Ajinkya, I'm a co-founder of Qoinup. And to begin with the story of Qoinup, I would like to - before that, I would like to share with you: Qoinup is a cryptocurrency exchange which is based out of Singapore. We also have affiliated offices in San Francisco and India. And it is predominantly focusing on the Indian and, to a certain extent, on the Asian market. The reason behind forming Qoinup was, back in the days in 2017 and 2018, the cryptocurrency market was at a very nascent stage in India, and at that point of time we saw that there were only two or three forms of trading back then, in the Indian, within the Indian market and addressing the bitcoin concerns of the Indian consumers. The foreign firms were there, but the Indian consumer was not allowed to buy cryptocurrency - or it was not feasible, you know, sending money across all the way to American and the European exchanges was not possible for the Indian consumer to do that. And the local firms which was there were actually having a monopoly. And there were just three firms and they were charging like 20 percent to 30 percent premium tax time on the bitcoin prices, which were going around in the world at that time. So in order to solve this issue, and also to provide them with an international quality of *****, we decided that we are going to start an exchange of our own. I mean, we have access to the American markets, and we have a base in Singapore and San Francisco, so why not use that? And you know, create a value proposition for the Indian consumers, and so that the Indian consumer can actually buy bitcoins at prices which are at par with what the world is buying into. So yeah, that was the whole idea behind starting Qoinup.
What are some of the main ways in which the cryptocurrency market in India id unique from that of the rest of the world?
Well the Indian market, to be very honest, like all the markets there are a lot of red tapes, especially if you are in the cryptocurrency business. But as you would expect, when you have so much red tapes around it, there would be a few players in the market, but that is not the case. Since the country is big, the players are also a lot, despite the red tapes. The local players know their way around. Everybody seems to understand if one person gets through the red tapes, there will be five people following him, trying to do the same. Which is why within a short time, you might have two exchanges, but then you will just go and have maybe ten within the next six months. So this sort of competition you will see only in India, and if you have like 10 players in the market, they all would be settling down, colluding with each other, and having fixed prices and trying not to eat into it, and no, it doesn't work that way in India. It's mainly everybody trying to cut across on prices or give more value. But yes, one good advantage of having this kind of cutthroat competition is that the consumer gets a really good value for his money, and that's what we have seen in the mobile sector as well. The data is probably the cheapest in India than any other part of the world. So that goes to show, and it has comes down, it used to be the most expensive place to sell data at one time. But yeah, due to competition everything has come down. So, we expect the cryptocurrency industry also to follow the same pattern in India, at least.
What are some of the main misconceptions and uncertainties people in India have regarding the safety and security of cryptocurrencies?
Well, in terms of misconception, the major misconception in India was -or still is - is that cryptocurrencies are a scam, especially Bitcoin. And I think a lot of people actually do not believe that something which is digital, non-tangible non-issued by a government can ever have - that is not gold - can ever have the kind of value that bitcoin has. So that is one of the major misconception. Apart from that, they have a lot of uncertainty in terms of the security and the safety of cryptocurrency. The government ban on the banking is not helping it, because that creates the atmosphere that the government is not in on cryptocurrency, so how can this be right? I mean this has to be something illegal, which is why the government is actually preventing us from buying or trading. So that is making a lot of people insecure when they actually purchase the cryptocurrencies. Second thing is, the news of all these hacks, and exchanges getting hacked, people losing their passwords. So a lot of people are actually afraid that when they are actually buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that whether we can actually own this, we can actually profit from it, or somebody is just gonna come one fine day and steal it all away. So yeah, that is the main issue about plaguing the mindset of ***
What are some of the main misconceptions and uncertainties people in India have regarding the safety and security of cryptocurrencies?
Well, in terms of misconception, the major misconception in India was -or still is - is that cryptocurrencies are a scam, especially Bitcoin. And I think a lot of people actually do not believe that something which is digital, non-tangible non-issued by a government can ever have - that is not gold - can ever have the kind of value that bitcoin has. So that is one of the major misconception. Apart from that, they have a lot of uncertainty in terms of the security and the safety of cryptocurrency. The government ban on the banking is not helping it, because that creates the atmosphere that the government is not in on cryptocurrency, so how can this be right? I mean this has to be something illegal, which is why the government is actually preventing us from buying or trading. So that is making a lot of people insecure when they actually purchase the cryptocurrencies. Second thing is, the news of all these hacks, and exchanges getting hacked, people losing their passwords. So a lot of people are actually afraid that when they are actually buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that whether we can actually own this, we can actually profit from it, or somebody is just gonna come one fine day and steal it all away. So yeah, that is the main issue about plaguing the mindset of ***
What are some of the main systemic reasons cryptocurrency has not experienced the same popularity in India that it has in the United States?
The main reasons for the cryptocurrency market to not pick up in India as much as, because traditionally the Indian investor likes to invest in three asset classes, which are: gold, real estate and stock market. And in the last couple of years, though bitcoin has done well, but these asset classes have also done well in India. So the traditional investor is more than happy with his share of profits. Secondly, the banks - I mean the interest rate in India - is much better than other parts of the world. So a lot of people are happy to keep the money in the bank - fixed deposits or, you know, mutual funds. Thirdly, the government has given very mixed signals to the investor. Their stance is pro-blockchain, but anti-cryptocurrency, which is why it has created a bit of fraud, FUD**** if you would say, in the minds of the investors, whether this is the real deal or the ***** or not. And last but not least, the accessibility. I mean till 2017, I mean the investor did not have any access to buy bitcoin, apart from the overseas exchanges. So I mean that does the story why the popularity is not as much as what it is that in the United States. But yeah, it will come. That's what we believe, because I mean Bitcoin started becoming popular in America, bitcoin was invented in 2009 but it picked up I mean after 3-4 years. In India, I was introduced to it somewhere in 2011-12, to be precise. So yeah, I guess we are still in that period, where it takes off in the country.
What are some of the main systemic reasons cryptocurrency has not experienced the same popularity in India that it has in the United States?
The main reasons for the cryptocurrency market to not pick up in India as much as, because traditionally the Indian investor likes to invest in three asset classes, which are: gold, real estate and stock market. And in the last couple of years, though bitcoin has done well, but these asset classes have also done well in India. So the traditional investor is more than happy with his share of profits. Secondly, the banks - I mean the interest rate in India - is much better than other parts of the world. So a lot of people are happy to keep the money in the bank - fixed deposits or, you know, mutual funds. Thirdly, the government has given very mixed signals to the investor. Their stance is pro-blockchain, but anti-cryptocurrency, which is why it has created a bit of fraud, FUD**** if you would say, in the minds of the investors, whether this is the real deal or the ***** or not. And last but not least, the accessibility. I mean till 2017, I mean the investor did not have any access to buy bitcoin, apart from the overseas exchanges. So I mean that does the story why the popularity is not as much as what it is that in the United States. But yeah, it will come. That's what we believe, because I mean Bitcoin started becoming popular in America, bitcoin was invented in 2009 but it picked up I mean after 3-4 years. In India, I was introduced to it somewhere in 2011-12, to be precise. So yeah, I guess we are still in that period, where it takes off in the country.
What's next for your work with Qoinup? What are the main projects, sectors and partnerships you'll be focusing on throughout the next year?
Well, now Qoinup is ready to launch, so our main focus will be on the launch itself. So it will be mainly in the marketing and promotions that our, I mean the major part of the next year will be occupied with. Besides that we have, or we are also planning to launch a platform wherein we can launch initial exchange offerings, wherein we help startups who wish to launch their own tokens through us. On the marketing side, as well as on the educational side, we are hoping to partnership with schools and other institutions, wherein we can help them spread the word across, and try and penetrate the TA2 and TA3 CTs, wherein we can go out there and carry out events, talks, seminars, and educate the masses. Then, we are also looking at insure tech sector. So, we are in talks with some underwriters, wherein we are planning to create a crypto insurance product. Yeah that should take something, about six months plus, to materialize. Apart from that, we are also looking at the remittance sector, because the volume of overseas remittances to India is quite huge. So, we believe that today we have a good potential to disrupt that industry and lower the costs of remittances, and add value to the consumer using blockchain. So for that, we are in talks with a few blockchains. Besides that, we'll always keep improving our platform and try to keep it upbeat and with all the latest technology - with all the bells and whistles, to be honest. That's what we are looking at. Thanks.