Barry Silbert, who recently resigned as SecondMarket’s CEO to focus exclusively on digital currency initiatives, has announced his investment of $250,000 in India’s Unocoin.
— Barry Silbert (@barrysilbert) August 11, 2014
Unocoin can be likened to a Coinbase for India. It provides a high security wallet and Bitcoin buying/selling capabilities. The service was spawned by a July 2013 meetup to bring Bitcoin awareness to the India public, and officially launched in December. Almost immediately thereafter, it suspended services when the Reserve Bank of India warned about virtual currencies. It relaunched in January after an upbeat presentation by the Bitcoins Alliance India (BAI) and an assessment that with adequate business practices, it will not face a regulatory crackdown.
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Silbert, an early investor in now dominant Bitcoin companies like Coinbase and BitPay, is hoping to replicate his success in India. The country of 1.2 billion is viewed as ripe for Bitcoin development. An estimated half-billion are unbanked. A large number of emigrants work abroad and send remittances back home. There is also an estimated 200 million tech savvy middle class citizens, and it is hoped that they will adopt and develop a greater cryptocurrency economy.
India also reportedly has an archaic currency-exchange infrastructure. Said Silbert:
“The catalyst that will drive bitcoin adoption in India is significantly more liquidity and trading in and out of rupees. No one is going to use bitcoin to send money to their family in India if there is no way to use it or no place to exchange it.”
While the investment is small relative to major multi-million dollar funding rounds, if growth proceeds according to expectations, the next round may be much, much larger.