Binance Holdings Ltd, which operates a cryptocurrency exchange platform, has acquired Indian digital asset platform WazirX.
Binance, headquartered in the European island nation of Malta, said in a statement the move will allow its customers to buy and sell cryptocurrency with Indian rupees on its platform from later this month. It didn't disclose financial deals of the deal.
WazirX’s auto-matching engine will also be integrated into Binance’s Fiat Gateway platform in the first quarter of next year, it said.
Changpeng Zhao, chief executive officer at Binance, said the acquisition showed the company’s commitment to strengthening the blockchain ecosystem in India and the adoption of cryptocurrency by larger sections of the country’s population.
Separately, WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty said the move will also help the company to provide its services and technology to developing nations apart from India. “The acquisition is yet another step towards achieving our shared mission with Binance of decentralising the world,” Shetty added.
Mumbai-based WazirX, which was launched last year, says it already has over two lakh app downloads. The firm’s Smart Token Fund feature helps cryptocurrency investors find traders and manage their portfolios.
Its platform allows for the buying, selling and trading of different digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin. WazirX says it also provides heavy security and allows for know-your-customer verification on its platform.
Binance, which is operated by Binance Holdings Ltd, says its ecosystem is comprised of several units to help further its mission of blockchain advancement. Some of the units include venture capital arm and incubator Binance Labs, decentralised exchange feature Binance DEX, token sale platform Binance Launchpad and educational portal Binance Academy.
The company says its exchange platform is used by consumers from over 180 countries and is also involved with grassroots efforts to promote the blockchain ecosystem in India.
Apart from WazirX, there are several other cryptocurrency startups functioning in the country, CoinDCX, CoinRecoil, and Unocoin. In March this year, CoinDCX raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and a group of angel investors including Sanjay Mehta of Mehta Ventures and AngelList India partner Utsav Somani.
However, the larger cryptocurrency ecosystem in India faces regulatory and legal hurdles. In July, a government panel recommended banning all private cryptocurrencies and a jail term of up to 10 years and heavy fines for anyone dealing in digital currencies.
The panel also asked the government to consider the launch of an official government-backed digital currency in India, to function like banknotes, through the Reserve Bank of India. In the past, the government has called cryptocurrencies “Ponzi schemes” that offer unusually high returns to early investors.