Nearly five years after its India début, bitcoins are now coming of age here, with traders gearing up for a giant leap. Indian exchanges of the digital money are gearing up to launch bitcoin futures early next year; but first, they want to integrate other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) on their platform.
This follows the launch of bitcoin futures and the subsequent rise of the cryptocurrency’s value in the global markets — its value hit an all-time high of $6,500 in November.
“Other than bitcoins, there are about 1,000 alternative coins (altcoins) in the global market, with Ethereum being the most popular. Many Indians are trading in altcoins due to their higher volatility. Right now, people buy bitcoins from Indian exchanges and then convert them into other cryptocurrencies from international exchanges,” Hesham Rehman, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of bitcoin exchange Bitxoxo, told BusinessLine.
“Apart from the inconvenience of the conversion, there is a lot of risk involved. These will be mitigated if altcoins are traded in India,” he said, adding Bitxoxo is planning to integrate some of the top altcoins by the first quarter of calendar year 2018.
Altcoins are cryptocurrencies that were launched after the success of bitcoin. In India, bitcoins have been available since 2012, and now have 8-9 trading platforms and over a million users.
“There was not much traction for other cryptocurrencies. Integrating these is the obvious and logical step towards expansion and increasing traction for digital money. We are definitely looking at them, but haven’t decided on the ones to be integrated,” said Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder and CEO, Unocoin, a bitcoin wallet.
The firm is looking at integrating other cryptocurrencies on its platform in a “few months,” he added.
Zebpay, the country’s largest bitcoin exchange, is also in the fray. “We are right in the midst of testing it, and will look at launching in December. We are looking at integrating only the decentralised coins (altcoins not controlled by private parties), and not more than 10,” said Sandeep Goenka, co-founder, Zebpay.
Many of the traders such as Unocoin and Bitxoxo are close to taking the plunge on futures trading, while some are yet to make their decision. While Unocoin has not finalised a date yet, Bitxoxo started work on futures trading platform in October, with a plan to launch it by the second or third quarter of the next calendar year.
For Zebpay, futures is not on its roadmap, Goenka said, adding that it has its own set of complications.