The Covid-19 pandemic saw the rise of cryptocurrencies, even as economies around were collapsing. From Bitcoin and Dogecoin to NFTs and DeFi, the entire industry of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is taking the world by storm once again after 2017.
Though the Indian government is still exploring cryptocurrencies and there are currently no regulations in place, the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have still not been very enthusiastic about crypto. The RBI wasn’t too hot on the idea and even passed some unpopular policies to ban banking for people indulged in cryptocurrency trading, but this was later reversed by the Supreme Court in 2018. Since then, India has experienced a crypto boom, with more people and investors entering the market.
While this nascent industry still takes its shape, some interesting developments have been occurring in the Indian crypto community, which, according to several experts, could prove to be a game-changer towards crypto regulation in the country.
The India Covid Crypto Relief Fund
Sandeep Nailwal, co-founder and COO of Polygon (previously known as Matic Network), has initiated a “Covid Relief fund” in India’s fight against the deadly second wave of the pandemic, which has attracted limelight worldwide. As hospitals around the nation are running low on resources like oxygen and medicines,resulting in a very high fatality rate, the situation in India is as grim as it can get.
Clearly disturbed, as many of us have been, Sandeep led the campaign and asked for the assistance of the global crypto community to contribute to India. The Covid Relief Drive was met with open arms by the entire community with volunteers from every category coming forward. This Covid Relief fund accepted full responsibility relating to transparency of funds, usage, and compliance, which resulted in a flood of cryptocurrency donations coming in.
The biggest of these came from Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum. He donated $600,000 in ETH and MKR to the Covid relief fund in April, followed by a whopping $1 billion worth of Shiba Inu coins. This donation will also go down in history as the highest ever donation to India by an individual or a group.
Vitalik has also been joined by other major names in the crypto industry, such as Balaji Sreenivasan, former CTO of Coinbase, who donated $50K in ETH, followed by $150 for every retweet up to $100K. Australian cricket legend Brett Lee donated 1BTC, while Justin Sun, the founder of TRON, a blockchain-based decentralized platform, also donated about 2 million TRX (worth $210K at the time). He also pledged to donate $100 for every retweet upto $100k.
Transparency of Funds
The Covid Crypto Relief Fund, holds all information on donations- including current crypto holdings, crypto-to-bank, and bank-to-grants transfers. Sandeep has also shared the donation addresses for each cryptocurrency, attempting to accept donations in any form, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, etc.
How Will These Crypto Donations Be Accepted In India ?
However, as donations continued to pour in, the biggest challenge was converting cryptos into Indian currency. The approval of the FCRA – Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) – was also a challenge since foreign funds as charitable donations are always closely scrutinized by the Indian Government. However, because financial experts from across the country agreed to oversee the campaign’s regulatory and audit aspects, and because support continued to pour in from all sides, regulatory clearance was quickly established.
After this, the major challenge was addressed – setting up banking for the fund to bring money in the bank account and distribute it to the right places.
FV Bank and B21 To the Rescue
For the purposes of liquidating the crypto donations to fiat, Crypto Relief fund has set up an account with FV Bank. Founded by Nitin Agarwal and Miles Paschini, FV Bank is a branchless and 100% online bank, with an OCIF registration and based in Puerto Rico. Once this account with FV bank was set up, Crypto Relief fund instantly began the conversion to fiat currency.
Nitin Agarwal and Miles Paschini have extensive experience in the payments industry. Miles is an investor and serial entrepreneur with almost 30 years experience in building innovative businesses in mobile and financial services markets. Nitin is an investor in Fintech and a payment product specialist with over 15 years’ experience in building financial services products, marketing and selling them on a global scale.
The duo have worked together extensively with the aim of making the world of fintech, crypto and DeFi easier and accessible for the masses, and it was with this mission that they founded FVBank, with Paschini serving as the CEO and Agarwal as the CRO. They also founded B21 – a crypto super app with a product suite that allows for successful crypto portfolio management, so users can easily invest, earn, and spend crypto, with the B21 platform.
Now that fiat conversion was also established, all that remained was to send these donations to the deserving places. Four days after his first post, Sandeep announced on Twitter that the first deployment was coming and that these donations were ready to be used for their intended purpose.
Future of Crypto in India
Indeed, this long series of events has been nothing short of inspirational, and it continues to be a true testament to the power of the crypto community. It has also made people recognize the beauty of transparency in crypto transactions. .
Even the government was likely caught off-guard by these donations, which shook the crypto community and the general public as well. The FCRA approval is encouraging and could hasten a crypto revolution in India in the not-too-distant future.
Only time will reveal whether this whole event will have a huge impact on India’s cryptocurrency adoption if and when the government decides to do so. But until then, we all have something to look forward to, and the crypto community can pride itself on the fact that these donations will undoubtedly benefit several people in need.
The success of India covid fund has also revolutionized the entire donation model, and set up an example where people from anywhere round the world can be a part of a cause.