According to the World Bank there are 190million people in India without a bank account. The country has also suffered double-digit inflation within the last ten years and aggressive government crackdowns on cash. No surprise that India is a huge growth market for crypto, but what are the options for buying bitcoin in India?
Up until a few years ago, buying or selling bitcoin in India may was a daunting task. However, with the advent of many new crypto exchanges, the whole process of buying bitcoin in India has become much easier.
In terms of legality, it is legal to buy or sell bitcoin in India. Although there is no regulatory framework around digital assets, the government has made it mandatory for anyone who makes money from investing in Bitcoin to report and pay the relevant taxes.
Now that you know it is safe and legal to buy bitcoin in India, let's dig into the different available options.
A crypto exchange allows a user to buy/sell cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, automatically. Unlike stock exchanges that operate within specific trading hours, crypto exchanges are active 24*7, except when in maintenance.
You don't have to buy a whole coin, one of the biggest misconceptions around Bitcoin. You can for just buy 500 INR worth of bitcoin, even though the price of one BTC is approx 34,70,520 INR (at the time of writing).
In India, several exchanges allow you to buy Bitcoin charging a small fee each time you exchange INR for BTC. This transaction fee depends upon the platform you use, which will be in addition to any fees to deposit and withdraw funds.
We've selected the top three exchanges in India to buy bitcoin
Created by Nischal Shetty, the founder of Crowdfire, WazirX is a Binance-backed cryptocurrency exchange with the largest user database in India. It allows users to buy Bitcoin and 100+ other cryptocurrencies, in addition to spot trading, P2P, deposit, withdrawals, etc. WazirX is available across all platforms, including web, Android & iOS mobile, Windows, and Mac.
The platform offers three payment options for buying Bitcoin in India, such as UPI transfer, NEFT, IMPS and RTGS, and Standard Deposit. Additionally, users can also buy Bitcoin in exchange for other cryptocurrencies supported by WazirX.
The exchange stores 95% of funds in offline storage to ensure users' security. In order to further strengthen the platform, WazirX have necessary KYC procedures in place for onboarding new users, which usually takes 1-3 days to complete. If anything goes wrong, the platform offers round-the-clock support, which users can access by submitting a request for the problem.
After completing the verification requirements and adding funds to the exchange, users can execute an order for Bitcoin. Users can also sell Bitcoin by depositing it on WazirX and exchange it for INRs, and then transfer those INRs to their bank accounts.
Trading Fee: 0.2%
Withdraw Fee: 0.0006 BTC
Deposit options: IMPS, RTGS, NEFT, Wazirx P2P
Minimum Value Required: INR 50
*Due to the recent FUD of crypto ban in India, all exchanges have disabled UPI payment option.
CoinDCX is another Indian crypto exchange that rose to fame when it raised 100 million in a Series B funding round from Block.one, Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Alex Pack, and other top venture capitals.
Similar to WazirX, CoinDCX offers an intuitive web and app platform for Indians to buy and sell Bitcoin. However, the platform offers only two payment methods - IMPS and standard bank deposits like NEFT and RTGS.
In terms of security, CoinDCX stores 95% of funds on multisig wallets and uses relevant KYC procedures to verify all new users. The exchange also provides 24-hour chat support assistance, which has now been extended to Telegram.
Trading Fee: 0.2%
Withdraw Fee: 0.0005 BTC
Deposit options: Mobikwik Wallet, IMPS, NEFT and RTGS
Minimum Value Required: INR 100
Zebpay is one of the first Indian cryptocurrency exchanges to enable Indians to buy/sell their Bitcoin. The platform is available on iOS and Android devices. In addition to UPI and other standard bank deposits, Zebpay has integrated Mobikwik wallet utilizing which a user can add funds to the platform to buy Bitcoin.
With the risk associated with cryptocurrencies, Zebpay protects its users from attacks by storing 98% of crypto funds in cold wallets. The platform also uses a proprietary security protocol called Omnitrixx that deploys a multi-chain security system to secure transactions between hot and cold storage wallets. Users with a problem can access Zebpay support by raising a ticket on the platform or sending an email.
Trading Fee: 0.15 to 0.25 %
Withdrawal Fee: 0.0006 BTC
Deposit options: IMPS, NEFT and RTGS
Minimum Value Required: INR 100
Compared to exchanges, peer-to-peer platforms are a bit more difficult to use due to their confusing interface. People who don’t trust a centralized exchange or want to avoid a corporate platform can utilize the P2P mode of selling and buying Bitcoin.
The P2P model simply connects Bitcoin buyers and sellers who directly interact with each via platform tools. Though users can use any platform to find a seller or buyer, a P2P platform provides a protection layer for everyone involved in a transaction through something called Escrow.
Escrow is an arrangement to hold funds between two parties, and only release them when certain conditions are met. Crypto’s version of Escrow is multi-sig, where funds can only be moved when a specified number of digital signatures are provided.
While WazirX, CoinDCX, and Zebpay also offer P2P trading, there are other platforms that are secure and more advanced in offering this type of Bitcoin exchange.
Given you are interacting directly with buyers and sellers one of the most important criteria for P2P platforms is the reputation of person you intend to exchange with.
In April 2020, Binance launched its P2P service for Indians to buy and sell Bitcoin for zero fees. The platform is quite easy to use as a buyer can easily scroll through the ads posted by sellers willing to sell Bitcoin in exchange for INR.
Though Binance has no involvement in the process, it still secures Bitcoin traders by using an escrow account, which holds the funds until all parties have confirmed the transaction.
A Finland-based peer-to-peer marketplace, LocalBitcoins is a true crypto OG, having been established in 2012, it is the original P2P platform.
It facilitates over-the-counter trading of Bitcoin for local currencies, including INR. Indian traders or investors can choose any method of payment to buy BTC, based on the seller's preference, which, at times, may include UPI, IMPS, or NEFT.
Similar to Binance, LocalBitcoins also offers escrow protection to ensure Bitcoin traders are safe. If there is a security or other concern, users can raise a ticket to the support team, and it can take about 2-3 days to get a reply.
Though buying from exchanges and p2p platforms is the most obvious route for Indians to acquire Bitcoin, it might be worth considering mining. Though rumours have been circulating of a potential ban on crypto mining in India, no regulatory framework has been created to date. Considering the low electricity cost in major states, mining Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies with lower hashrates, might prove to be fruitful.
Those looking to buy - note that while the digital asset has given massive returns to users over the years, it is highly volatile. So, do your own research before investing in Bitcoin and invest only what you can afford to keep it for the long term.