India is still reeling under a cash crunch triggered by the government’s sudden demonetization move announced on November 8. Overnight, high-denomination currency – 500-rupee notes and 1000-rupee notes – became illegal and those had to be physically exchanged at banks.
But there is a tight limit on how much you can withdraw from an ATM or a bank in a day, so that set off a mad scramble for cash across the country. Most of my friends and I haven’t yet made a successful trip to the bank or ATM for the new currency notes. Fintech #startup Unocoin wants to grab the moment with a new bitcoin mobile app that provides an alternative to cash.
The bitcoin app, launched for both iOS and Android devices, will allow consumers to buy, sell, send, receive, and store bitcoin in one place, from any remote device. The users will get 24/7 access to real-time bitcoin market prices and instantaneous trading transactions, Unocoin announced today.
“It [the bitcoin app] is secure with TouchID for iOS devices and password access for Android devices, and has a one-touch button for buying and selling bitcoin, with inbuilt conversion,” Abhinand Kaseti, co-founder and CMO of Unocoin, said.
Founded in 2013 by Abhinand and Sunny Ray, the Bangalore-based startup claims to process bitcoin transactions worth over INR 200 million (around US$3 million) in a month.
According to the company, bitcoin adoption is gaining speed in India – partly due to rapid smartphone adoption and partly due to the demonetization move. “As of now, there are more than 1 billion Indians who use mobile phones. More than 300 million use their phones regularly for accessing the internet. This trend is expected to go up by 56 percent per year,” Abhinand added.
Unocoin wants to enable merchants to accept bitcoin as a mode of payment. Around six months ago, it released its point-of-sale (POS) app on both App Store and Play Store.
Unocoin’s bitcoin trading platform claims to have over 110,000 customers. It recently announced a funding round of US$1.5 million from Indian investors Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels, and Ah Ventures, along with US investors Digital Currency Group, Boost VC, Bank to the Future, and FundersClub. Earlier, it had raised US$200,000 in seed capital.