Bitcoin not an option for India’s ultra wealthy despite economic uncertainties

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Proposed crypto ban could cost India's economy billions

India’s high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) aren’t flocking to Bitcoin as a safe haven asset even with the looming threat of economic uncertainties.

In fact, recent research shows the majority of the country’s ultra-rich class having little awareness about cryptocurrencies in general.

Rather than a pivot to virtual currencies, wealthy Indians appear to be looking towards outside investments. Meanwhile, the country could be moving to impose a blanket ban on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

No Bitcoin FOMO for India’s HNIs

According to Quartz India, the country’s rich class isn’t looking towards Bitcoin as a hedge against the growing economic uncertainties in the country. About half of India’s HNIs say they do not know much about cryptocurrencies.

In 2019, several U.S.-based Bitcoin bulls have touted the top-ranked crypto as a haven asset and a store of value against a predicted global economic downturn.

While a recent survey by Hurun shows wealthy Indians fearing a looming economic instability, cryptos aren’t among their haven asset of choice. For this class of individuals, real estate and gold are the go-to asset class.

India’s auto sector has taken a significant hit in 2019 with more than 350,000 jobs lost in the process. Even with a stimulus package introduced by the government, some stakeholders fear a further contraction in both industry jobs and car sales for the rest of the year.

Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising to see wealthy investors being keen on less volatile asset classes like bullion and real estate.

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Wealthy Indians keen on de-risking

As part of efforts to de-risk their portfolios, Indian HNIs are also reportedly looking towards overseas investments with the U.K., Singapore, and Canada being the most popular destinations.

While cryptos might not be a hot topic among wealthy Indians, the Hurun report shows that virtual assets will see significant investment inflows in the next three years. While the level of crypto education among wealthy Indians might be low, as per the survey, Bitcoin is still the most popular cryptocurrency.

About 30% of respondents who were familiar with crypto said they would consider investing in Bitcoin. Other participants chose Ethereum and XRP with the other top-ten cryptos hardly getting a look-in from the survey respondents.

Crypto ban still looms large in India

Meanwhile, the threat of blanket cryptocurrency ban still looms large in the country. Back in August, an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) instituted by the government submitted its report calling for a total cryptocurrency ban in India.

Parliament is expected to deliberate on the matter once it reconvenes in its next session. There is also the legal tussle between crypto stakeholders and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the country’s Supreme Court.

At the last hearing in late August 2019, the Court ordered the apex bank to provide cogent reasons for its cryptocurrency ban. In 2018, the RBI stopped commercial banks from providing services to crypto exchanges in the country.

For crypto stakeholders in the country, the cryptocurrency industry holds the key to stimulating India’s economy. Tweeting on Saturday, Nischal Shetty, the WazirX CEO urged the government not to stifle the virtual currency sector.