Here’s how former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan says India should embrace crypto

Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan says India must enable cryptocurrency payments and related services for its citizens on several government-backed applications, as per a blog post over the weekend.

He proposed adding cryptocurrencies to ‘IndiaStack,’ a set of national APIs for payments, identity, KYC, e-signature, and document verification that is used by government applications to facilitate services for billions of Indians.

Add crypto to everything

Srinivasan, of Indian ancestry, is a popular Bitcoin and cryptocurrency proponent who previously built and sold the token-based social network to Coinbase. He is currently an angel investor focusing on cryptocurrencies and says the sector presents a massive opportunity for the world’s second-most populous country.

“India can leapfrog the US and China to emerge as the global leader for decentralized finance if it enables cryptocurrency functionalities on existing public digital platforms including the UPI and Aadhaar,” he said in a concept note.

UPI is a feeless, digital payments framework that facilitates instant real-time payments in India. Aadhar, on the other hand, is a free-of-cost verification number available to all citizens. Both the protocols have been fully rolled out in the country in the past decade—and are available to 1.3 billion Indians.

As per Balaji, adding crypto to IndiaStack could help solve the various oversight risks in regulating such digital payments while attracting billions of dollars in investments to the country.

The note even explored a rather far-fetched idea (for now) of India pursuing a ‘Decentralised Movement’ where countries could economically benefit from Bitcoin and Ethereum while ensuring no centralized control.

“The NationStack concept is a long-term vision for India to help every country gradually replace services managed by American and Chinese corporations with locally-operated tech platforms and national digital currencies,” Srinivasan explained.

The ex-Andressen Horowitz GP stated that startups and students could benefit via crypto crowdfunding and DeFi platforms—and even “personal” tokens. 

Ahead of drastic laws

Meanwhile, the note was generally well-received in the crypto community, with influential personalities like Infosys founder Nandan Nilekani embracing the idea of a crypto economy.

As such, it comes amidst rumors of stern regulations for cryptocurrency investors and traders in India. 

Reports from last month that cited officials said holders of crypto assets could face hefty fines and possibly jail time, in what could be some of the most drastic laws imposed by any countries with regards to cryptocurrencies. But can Srinivasan’s note be an eyeopener for those officials?

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editorial staff