Cryptocurrency trading platform Koinex raises funds from Pantera, others
Photo Credit: Akshansh Maan/VCCircle

Mumbai-based Discidium Internet Labs Pvt Ltd, which operates multi-cryptocurrency trading platform Koinex, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in a pre-Series A funding round led by existing investor Beenext and cryptocurrency focused-fund Pantera Capital.

The company will use the funds to ramp up product development and technology, and to expand its team, a company statement said. The investment is Pantera's first deal in an Indian cryptocurrency venture.

“Pantera Capital is staunchly committed to investing in local cryptocurrency exchanges across the globe because any regional market thrives on local leadership,” Daniel Morehead, founder and chief executive of Pantera Capital, stated.

San Francisco-based Pantera Capital was founded in 2013 by Morehead. It claims to be the first bitcoin investment firm from the US and one of the largest institutional owners of cryptocurrencies.

The Ethereum Project, Ripple Labs, Bitcoin Foundation and Bitstamp are part of its investment portfolio.

Beenext, which is a Singapore-based early-stage technology fund, had earlier invested an undisclosed sum into Koinex as part of the company’s seed round. Beenext’s other Indian bets include Citrus Pay, HackerEarth, Bharat Bazaar and NoBroker

“Since India is a tremendous market because of its size and large remittance corridor, we believe Koinex is extremely well-positioned to be a pioneering force in the cryptocurrency space in the country,” said Dirk van Quaquebeke, Managing Partner at Beenext Pte. Ltd.

Koinex was founded in August 2017 by IIT graduates Rakesh Yadav and Rahul Raj and BITS Pilani graduate Aditya Naik. The platform claims to be India’s first trading bourse that supports real-time multiple cryptocurrencies/tokens on a single platform.

Users can sign up on the platform with the required KYC (know your customer) details, after which they can use it to trade or place orders, withdraw or deposit cryptocurrencies, and withdraw the gains, if any, in Indian rupees. Koinex currently supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin on a single web platform, based on a peer-to-peer exchange model.

The platform’s live, open order book exchange offers transparent pricing for each listed digital asset, enabling potential buyers to place their bids, and sellers to set ‘asks’ for the cryptocurrency they want to trade in, the media statement said.

“Global markets have crossed the tipping point for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which have transitioned from being a rising trend to a full-fledged technological and financial phenomenon,” said Rahul Raj, CEO of Koinex.

An IIT Kharagpur graduate, Raj had previously worked at B2B e-commerce platform Bizongo as its product manager. Earlier, he had also worked at Tiger Global-backed mobile news curation app Inshorts, as a content analyst. An IIT Delhi graduate, co-founder Yadav had earlier worked at Bizongo and Webengage, among other professional stints. Naik, the third co-founder, is a BITS Pilani alumnus and had previously worked at Bizongo.

While adoption of cryptocurrencies are at a very nascent stage in India, blockchain, the underlying technology for Bitcoin, is increasingly being adopted among financial institutions to enable cross-border real time financial transactions.

The funding comes at a time when bitcoin touched a record high of $17,384.56 on Wednesday. A report by the Press Trust of India stated that officials from the Income Tax Department under the command of the Bengaluru investigation wing, visited non exchanges across the country in order to inspect the dealings and books of account of various bitcoin participants.

While there have been no known fundraises in this space this year, a few startups in the larger bitcoin segment raised funds in 2016.

In September last year, Bitcoin exchange Unocoin raised $1.5 million (Rs 10 crore) in a pre-Series A funding round led by early-stage investor Blume Ventures along with the participation of Mumbai Angels, ah! Ventures and international investors such as Digital Currency Group, Boost VC, Bank to the Future and FundersClub.

In January last year, Bitcoin mobile wallet Zebpay raised around $1 million (around Rs 6.6 crore) in Series A funding from Claris Life Sciences CMD Arjun Handa, Jindal Worldwide MD Amit Jindal and other unnamed investors.

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