The fund, which plans to invest upwards of $100,000 per startup, promises to open up direct access to Binance’s global blockchain ecosystem to India’s entrepreneurial community. Named Blockchain for India, the fund will also invest in projects using Binance Coin, Binance USD and WRX coins up to $5 million. These are all forms of cryptocurrency — virtual money managed through a secure digital ledger with no physical counterparts like banknotes or coins.
“When our team visited India last year, we saw that the blockchain startups were witnessing tremendous challenges in fundraising and scaling projects to meet growing consumer demands,” Binance founder and chief executive Changpeng Zhao said.
The fund will make investments including in fiat-to-digital assets gateway solutions, trading platforms, payment and remittance solutions, digital asset wallets, DeFi platforms and decentralised applications. “The projects will receive mentoring from the leaders within the Binance ecosystem,” said Nischal Shetty, the founder of WazirX, a bitcoin exchange now owned by Binance.
Binance’s global blockchain ecosystem includes Binance Chain, Binance Cloud, Binance DEX, Binance Launchpad, Binance Research, Binance Academy, Binance X and portfolio companies such as WazirX, DappReview and Trust Wallet among others.
“We also plan to provide support to universities and student organisations who want to set up blockchain tech incubators at their college to accelerate blockchain education in India,” Shetty said.
Binance had acquired Mumbai-based WazirX in 2019. Its other acquisitions include Hong Kong-based DApp and JEX and San Francisco-based Trust Wallet.
The company globally competes with Robinhood, SFOX, CoinFLEX, TigerWit, an d Bakkt among others.
“We have more new initiatives in our pipeline that we will be coming out within the next few months to help build the Indian blockchain ecosystem from a broader scope, including project funding, technology and talent development,” said Zhao.
According to Binance, the next phase of mass adoption for crypto will arise from developing nations and India, with more than a billion people, is primed for this.
Over the last 18 months, the Malta-based crypto exchange has been actively looking to develop India’s blockchain ecosystem. Crypto project Matic Network, raised via blockchain on Binance Launchpad, and Marlin Protocol had secured $3 million from Binance Labs along with Arrington XRP, Electric Capital, NGC, and other investors.
Interestingly, this comes days after the global cryptocurrency market lost more than $50 billion over fears of recession due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, businesses continue to be bullish on India, boosted by the apex court’s verdict to strike down the central bank’s April 2018 circular that disallowed banks and regulated entities from facilitating trade in cryptocurrencies.
Since then, companies including ZPX, Incrypt Blockchain and Unocoin are chalking out plans to revive and expand their business in the coming months. While the total number of verified virtual currency users stands at 1.7 million in India, according to IAMAI, the global market size is pegged at $430 billion.
Separately, Binance has also applied for an operating licence in Singapore. Earlier this month, the company said Akbank, one of the largest banks in Turkey, had become the first bank ever to integrate directly with Binance.