BillDesk, one of India’s largest payment gateways, announced the release of their own cryptocurrency exchange on November 24, named Coinome. Touted as the country’s first open order book exchange, BillDesk aims to combine its expertise in online payments with the digital currency market.
At the time of its release, Coinome will only support bitcoin and bitcoin cash trading. BillDesk is said to be working on adding support for over 20 other cryptocurrencies, with the target period stated to be sometime in 2018 according to Inc42.
Most cryptocurrency exchanges in India are closer to currency brokers than they are to true exchanges; this is because the buy-sell spread system has been the go-to monetization strategy for most major Indian exchanges, including Zebpay.
For instance, at the time of writing, there is an approximate buy-sell spread of INR 13,000 ($200) in bitcoin’s price on Zebpay. During periods of extreme volatility in the market, this spread widens even further. For investors or traders looking to capitalize on the frequent fluctuations in bitcoin’s price, Indian exchanges have never been the solution.
Coinome’s approach to monetization differs from the other incumbents in the market though. Instead of maintaining a price spread, they charge a per-trade commission that ranges between 0.1 to 0.3 percent. This strategy is based on the maker-taker fee model and will probably benefit active traders the most. In the past, Indian traders have been forced to resort to overseas exchanges, most popularly Bitfinex, to trade bitcoin futures.
In September 2017, Zebpay, one of India’s oldest bitcoin exchanges, announced that their trading application had received over one million downloads on Android and iOS. Koinex is another popular cryptocurrency exchange in the country and supports bitcoin, ether, ripple, and litecoin. Facing these incumbents head-on, Coinome hopes to be the de facto choice for cryptocurrency users in the country.
Coinome’s release in 2017 is interesting since the Reserve Bank of India only recently disallowed the usage of bitcoin and ether as legal tender in the country. If anything, this move probably cements the fact that Indian interest in cryptocurrency is at an all-time high. Moreover, the growth of digital currencies in the country is unlikely to be hindered by almost any government intervention, save for a blanket ban on all cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin and other similar currencies were launched with the intention of replacing fiat, but with their prices demonstrating an exponential upward trend, they have since become avenues of investment for many. Financial experts have frowned upon this shift in paradigm, with some claiming that cryptocurrency prices are in a bubble as a result. Regardless, worldwide interest in the market is increasing by the day.
The Indian cryptocurrency market has seen explosive growth ever since the nationwide banknote demonetization debacle in late 2016. Around 15 digital currency exchanges are now operating in the country, most of which were released in either 2016 or 2017. With the time advantage that these older exchanges have enjoyed, BillDesk’s Coinome might face an upward challenge regarding establishing a strong footing in this already crowded arena.