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NEW DELHI : India has its second crypto unicorn in less than two months. Bengaluru-based CoinSwitch Kuber on Wednesday announced a Series C funding round worth over $260 million led by US venture capital firm a16z (Andreesen Horowitz) and Coinbase Ventures.

The investment makes CoinSwitch the 30th unicorn startup in India, with a valuation of $1.9 billion, higher than CoinDCX’s $1.1 billion announced in August. Coinbase Ventures was also part of CoinDCX’s recent funding round.

Existing investors Paradigm, Ribbit Capital, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global also took part in CoinSwitch’s round.

The crypto exchange was founded in 2017 as a global aggregator of cryptocurrency exchanges by Ashish Singhal, who has worked at Amazon and Microsoft in the past and is the chief executive of CoinSwitch. Govind Soni and Vimal Sagar are co-founders and hold the chief technology officer and chief operating officer positions, respectively.

The exchange began operations in India in June 2020, with a focus on simplifying crypto investing and online food ordering. According to Singhal, the newly acquired funds will be used to build up new asset classes.

“These would be standard asset classes that you see in the market, not related to crypto," he said. “A lot of people who invest with us are under the age of 28 and are first-time investors who haven’t invested in assets other than crypto. These users will want to grow with us as a platform, de-risk themselves from the volatility of crypto, and eventually have a portfolio that is balanced on the volatility end."

The new asset classes will not allow investors to use crypto to buy traditional assets. Instead, it will function alongside the regular crypto exchange and will allow users to use fiat currencies. Singhal said plans to build this side of the business are underway right now. The company hopes that its new products and services will help grow its user base from 10 million now to 50 million eventually.

It also wants to increase hiring. Singhal said that other than leadership hiring, the company wants to hire experts in engineering, product, data and even compliance, so as to deal with the current regulatory landscape. He said the company might look overseas for talent too.

On the regulatory front, Singhal said he’s “really positive". “The tonality of the finance minister and other folks who regulate crypto has really changed. They’re sending clear statements, saying they won’t shut down crypto. We have also seen policymakers ask experts about how to go about regulating the crypto space. This funding, because it involves investors like a16z, who have never really invested in India before, will also build confidence among regulators," he said.

CoinSwitch Kuber will also launch a new ecosystem fund, meant to invest in other crypto and blockchain companies in India. “The first agenda is to identify companies that are solving issues for India using blockchain," he said. The fund will also be used to build crypto awareness and make strategic investments that might help the platform build its own business.


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