Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S., announced on Thursday that its trading services are now available to users in India. The publicly listed firm said that it is working to widen its product offerings in the country.
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Coinbase announced the move at a crypto community event in Bangalore and disclosed that it has added support for the popular UPI payment instrument in India. The exchange said that Indian users can now trade as many as 157 cryptocurrencies and buy crypto assets in Indian currency.
The popular exchange now allows Indian users to buy crypto coins using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payments infrastructure developed by a coalition of retail banks. The UPI has become the most popular way Indians do online transactions.
The development has made the crypto exchange functional in the world’s second-largest internet market for the first time. Coinbase users in India can add money to and withdraw from their accounts by using the UPI network, the exchange stated.
Coinbase mentioned it is giving $2.65 to everyone who signs up as part of efforts to encourage customers to try the app.
Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, who was present at the event, said that the exchange is making “a long-term investment” in India. The executive stated that the company has already invested $150 million in Indian startups and intends to more than triple its staff in the country to 1,000 this year.
However, hours after Coinbase unveiled its trading service in India with UPI support, The National Payments Corporation of India, the governing body that oversees UPI in the country, made a different statement. The regulator said that it is not aware of any crypto exchange using UPI payments instruments in the country. The payments body disclosed that other cryptocurrency exchanges in India have had trouble with supporting UPI on their platforms because cryptocurrency is not legal in the South Asian market. The NPCI’s statement suggests that UPI is still a no-go zone for crypto in India.
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In April last year, Coinbase announced that it was preparing to set up back-end operations in India. As a result, the US-based exchange hired Pankaj Gupta, Google Pay’s former engineering lead in India and the Asia Pacific, to do the job. The exchange also hired several employers to occupy information technology services, customer support, and software development roles.
Last November, Coinbase acquired Indian-based artificial intelligence (AI)-powered support platform Agara to automate and enhance its customer experience (CX) tools in the country.
In February this year, the firm announced plans to “double down on regional investments in the country. Coinbase is already an investor in two of the country’s largest local cryptocurrency exchanges (CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX).
Coinbase is also planning to quadruple its headcounts in India by the end of 2022, to add 1,000 to the existing staff strength of 300 at its Indian tech hub, which began last year.
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