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Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, is actively trying to "find the ideal point for launching its local presence in India," a Binance spokesperson told CoinDesk in an email.
"We are monitoring the changes in the local regulatory environment ... We are also in talks with different stakeholders to understand the market approach of the South Asia market in a compliant manner," the spokesperson added.
CoinDesk had posed the India question to Binance after multiple sources had indicated the company's hiring interest in the region.
A check of LinkedIn shows Binance actively seeking to fill these roles in India and South Asia: Head of Government Relations APAC, Regulatory Counsel APAC, Head of Acquisition, Executive Communications and Visibility Lead, Communications and PR Lead, PR Director APAC, Global Comms/PR manager and a Content Marketing Specialist.
Binance coming to India – a nation of 1.4 billion with more than 50% of the populace under the age of 30 – despite regulatory pressures such as the new tax law and the stifling of payment solutions – could be a major event for the crypto ecosystem.
"Certainly user awareness and crypto adoption may receive a boost but it could backfire because Binance would have to disclose [know-your-customer information] of Indian retailers who may have used an Indian exchange to trade money on [the exchange]," said Siddharth Sogani, founder and CEO of crypto research firm Crebaco.
The development comes after Coinbase (COIN), the world's third-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, launched operations in India on April 7, only to exit three days later thanks to regulatory snags that disrupted nearly the entire industry.
FTX, the world's second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has been exploring the feasibility of a launch in India but regulatory concerns have put things on hold for the moment, according to at least two people familiar with the matter.
Asked about its India vision in the near future, particularly after the struggles for Coinbase and FTX, the Binance spokesperson said India can be a major crypto participant. "More than 10 crore (100 million) Indians own cryptocurrency according to industry reports, and we can tell that mass adoption of crypto is happening in India. With strong industry players on [the] ground, making investments in the country's industry, India can become one of the hubs for crypto industry," the spokesperson said.
According to policy specialists in India, neither Binance nor FTX are likely to come to India until the regulatory environment improves, particularly after Coinbase's troubled launch.
Vivan Sharan, a technology and policy expert who has worked with the government in the past, said global crypto exchanges could be great for India.
"India [must not] view investments from global crypto-exchanges as a disruptive force," said Sharan. "Rather, it should consider them an economic opportunity that can be harnessed through regulation. Exchanges are important nodes within Web 3, and can easily be nudged to help mitigate the types of risks that the crypto ecosystem is receiving flak for these days."