Prominent Indian bitcoin startup Unocoin has raised a national record-setting $1.5 million in a Pre-Series A funding round from a group of international and Indian venture capital funds.
The funds were raised from Indian investors Blume Ventures, Mumbi Angels, ah! Ventures, and international investment firms Bitcoin Capital, Bank To The Future, Digital Currency Group, Boost VC and FundersClub.
According to Unocoin CEO, Sathvik Vishwanath, “India has the largest gold, inward remittance, and IT markets in the world, all of which make it a perfect home for bitcoin and blockchain technology.” With that in mind, Unocoin aims to leverage Bitcoin to reduce the costs of remittances and increase financial inclusion for India’s unbanked population.
Despite India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, having issued a warning in 2013 against the use of digital currencies, as they “are not authorized by any central bank or monetary authority,” Unocoin’s management believes that “bitcoin has the potential to take market share from gold, substantially reduce the cost of remittance and potentially bank the unbanked.”
Unocoin is looking to expand its operations to other cities and spearhead bitcoin adoption among merchants and private users in India.
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Unocoin’s Co-founder and President Sunny Ray stated that, with the boost in funding, Unocoin will now “invest the money into making a few strategic technical hires, security upgrades, C4 compliance and focus on growth across India. We currently serve 100,000 users and our aim is to scale up to serving millions in the years to come.”
Furthermore, responding to my question about what the biggest challenges of Bitcoin are in India, Ray said, “The biggest challenges are security, regulations and compliance, along with educating the public about bitcoin and blockchain technology. With a population almost bigger than China’s, India is now finally beginning to pick up on bitcoin and we see a massive market opportunity ahead. To make this happen, we will continue working tirelessly to offer our customers the best possible experience.”
Bangalore-based Unocoin is India’s first bitcoin start-up and was founded in 2013 by Sunny Ray, Sathvik Vishwanath, Abhinand Kaseti and Harish B V with the aim to bring bitcoin adoption to the Indian market. Unocoin sells, buys and stores bitcoins for Indian users and has grown its customer base to over 100,000 in three years. It currently employs more than 30 people in its Bangalore office.
Alex Lielacher is a location independent entrepreneur who travels the world while working remotely on various start-up ventures. He has been following bitcoin since 2011 and regularly writes about personal finance, fintech and digital currencies.