Ajeet Khurana, CEO of crypto exchange Zebpay which launches today in Australia, says reports that India is set to ban cryptocurrency are overblown.
“I must tell you that I have heard of this in general business media outlets however over the last year I have talked to all of the top stakeholders in the Ministry of Finance, the central bank, the securities regulator and despite them having a certain amount misgiving around crypto I have never heard them talk of banning it,” he tells Micky.com.au. “So it’s very interesting that the people who could ban it, have never said they will ban it.”
Zebpay forced out of India
Until last year, Zebpay was India’s biggest exchange, accounting for almost 60% of the market, however it was forced out of the country when the Reserve Bank of India banned banks from working with cryptocurrency exchanges.
Khurana says the decision to pull out of India was one of the worst decisions he’s ever been forced to make.
“I was lost for words, it was horrible actually,” he says. “I found it an extremely difficult decision to make.”
New home in Malta and Australia
Zebpay has expanded to more than 130 countries worldwide, however it is only physically based in two – Malta and Australia. The company’s new Melbourne headquarters are at Stone and Chalk – (AKA the Blockchain Centre).
Khurana said that when he was choosing a new home for Zebpay, there were three criteria that he examined.
“Australia was the one that fit the bill. I’m interested in country with a sizeable domestic market and there are probably 15 countries around the world that meet that criteria. The second one is that the state of regulation around crypto should have a high degree of clarity. It falls down to about four or five (countries), and third and finally it should be an easy country to do business in. And the moment you apply all these criteria the one that emerges right at the top of the list is Australia.”
Favourable regulatory environment
Khurana says that Australia and Malta currently lead the world in cryptocurrency regulation.
“Malta is probably the world’s most advanced regulatory location,” he explains. “It has crypto specific regulation and guidelines on what coins can be traded and specific issues related to custody, transactions, order matching etc. As things stand today Australia is equally friendly but my forecast is that more crypto-specific regulations might soon emerge in Australia.”
Zebpay will last the distance
Zebpay is not the first international exchange to set up shop in Australia. Huobi Australia was famously forced out of the country in February, due to disastrous market conditions. But Khurana says Zebpay has deep enough pockets to last the distance.
“I don’t know the circumstances of why Huboi chose to leave but I think that we may have been in that situation, had we come in hoping to overnight have a dominant market share in Australia, simply because our history is of a dominant market share in another country. However we have come in with all humility and realizing we have to start from zero. Just because I have a PHD in the land called India does not mean I can avoid going to kindergarten in Australia all over again!”
Khurana says Zebpay has enough funding to build up the business over the next two years.
“Because of our rather profitable past our financial reserves are pretty strong,” he says. “We believe we have a couple of years of sustaining power until we become strong financially (in Australia).”
Zebpay offers trading in Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin with no fees on fiat deposits and withdrawals.