By providing a simplified experience to users, Coinswitch Kuber and its founders Ashish Singhal, Vimal Sagar Tiwari, and Govind Soni are taking cryptocurrencies to the masses, and building their own fortune
Naandika Tripathi started her journey with Forbes India as an intern four years ago, today she’s the special correspondent. She covers startups, tech, climate change, education, cryptocurrency and human interest stories. She holds a postgraduate degree from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM, Bangalore), with specialisation in multimedia and business journalism. Apart from writing for the magazine, Naandika also handles social media, events and the Blogs section on forbesindia.com. Outside of work, you will find her traveling and exploring new places, volunteering for NGOs, rescuing animals, and mostly spending time around them.
Thirty-two-year-old Ashish Singhal knew his company is on the right path just a week after launching CoinSwitch Kuber in India. The assurance came after Singhal’s mother ended up buying bitcoin on his platform, without even telling him about it. “We launched with the mission to make crypto investing as simple as ordering food online. The aim is to create an investment ecosystem that simplifies investing in crypto for retail users,” says Singhal, co-founder and CEO of CoinSwitch Kuber, a crypto exchange.
Founded as CoinSwitch in 2017 by Ashish Singhal, Govind Soni and Vimal Sagar, CoinSwitch Kuber recently became India’s second crypto unicorn after CoinDCX. The computer science engineers have known each other for 14 years and won major hackathons in India, including those by Sequoia, Google and Amazon. The idea of CoinSwitch also started as a hack, which has now grown to 13 million registered users. The trio was working with Amazon, Microsoft, and Zynga. During a hackathon, they built a simple crypto exchange aggregator and launched it online. It started seeing users coming onboard. The simplicity of the product seemed to be working.
The co-founders wanted to make crypto easy to understand and accessible for the Indian masses. However, in 2018 the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) instructed banks not to support crypto transactions, effectively signalling a ban. This forced CoinSwitch to take its first product to the global market. Started as a crypto-to-crypto exchange, it helped users discover the best price for cryptocurrencies since the price varies across exchanges. It was doing $1 million worth of GMV (gross merchandise value) a day within a month of its launch amd got funding from Sequoia Capital.
In 2020, when RBI’s ban was lifted by the Supreme Court, CoinSwitch was relaunched as CoinSwitch Kuber in India. The idea was to target retail users, a category that was underserved. Users were going to exchanges, and trying to understand complicated graphs and order books to buy cryptocurrencies. “Crypto in itself is complex, and then you put that experience on top of it. We knew these digital natives, who are used to ordering food, taxis and groceries with one click, and who may not get into it. That’s why we launched CoinSwitch Kuber with the mission to make crypto investing simple,” says Singhal. In two years, the platform claims to have more users than other Indian crypto exchanges. Singhal credits this to a simplified user experience, and the decision to not provide users with certain trading features.
CoinSwitch Kuber raised $260 million in Series C funding from Coinbase Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz in September, to become India’s most-valued crypto unicorn, with a valuation of $1.9 billion. CoinSwitch Kuber is Andreessen Horowitz’s first investment in an Indian startup, and Tiger Global’s first investment in an Indian crypto company.
The pandemic worked in its favour. “CoinSwitch Kuber’s right messaging, right product, and the right team helped educate more and more Indians about crypto asset investing. We have always focussed on the product. We know that attracting investments would not be a problem if we succeed on the user problem,” says Singhal.
The company plans to deliver diverse investment options to its customer base to capture a larger proportion of the customer lifetime value from investments as a use-case. It is on a mission to become the all-in-one investment destination, with new initiatives spanning gold, mutual fund distribution, fixed deposits, Indian bonds and equities, US equities, and more.
“When we met Ashish and the CoinSwitch team, we could sense their passion and desire to enable access to crypto for the Indian consumer. We believe strongly in crypto’s potential to reinvent how financial products are constructed and improve access to financial services to billions of people around the world, and the CoinSwitch team expressed the same vision. Since then, they have become one of the fastest-growing fintech companies we have ever seen.. and we are proud to support them. We believe CoinSwitch will lead the charge as the leading crypto platform in India, and can touch hundreds of millions,” says Zack Rosen from Ribbit Capital, one of the investors in CoinSwitch Kuber.
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(This story appears in the 31 December, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)
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