Crypto exchange ZebPay has decided to venture into many markets from the United States to the United Arab Emirates this year in an attempt to hedge against regulatory hassles. In an exclusive interview with DH’s Veena Mani, ZebPay Chief Executive Officer Avinash Shekhar discussed the logic behind the move, the evolution of crypto regulations across the globe and why India needs to rethink its attitude towards the emerging asset class.
Which markets will you focus on this year?
The strategy cannot be either this or that when it comes to geographies. We cannot focus on one country and forget the rest because globally there is a discussion about cryptocurrency and countries like UAE want to regulate it. We are planning to enter the US and UAE this calendar year. We expect the push from corporations to invest in cryptocurrencies in the US to help us grow. Our focus will be to tap corporations in the US. In the US, we already have regulations in place. Because of this, businesses are investing in cryptocurrency, which will help us grow. UAE is an emerging market with respect to crypto.
How do you view India’s decision to tax virtual digital assets?
Crypto was always taxed but it depended on the income slab. There was some confusion on whether it was capital gains tax etc. But now, there is a flat rate. Overall, it is a step in the right direction. But there is an issue with the nitty-gritty. Conceptually, 30% is not correct. It is an emerging technology. The tax must not be punitive. You cannot adjust losses or any other expenses you have incurred. The TDS issue is also excessive. The government’s intention is basically to get data over revenue. We are taking up specific issues with the government. Hopefully, they will take our suggestions.
The finance minister has said that crypto is not a currency. What is your take on that?
We never claimed that crypto is a currency. We maintain that it is an asset class. The question is if India wants to take the lead in developing this technology.
We have heard from other crypto exchanges that Indian banks are yet to warm up to crypto transactions. What has been your experience?
RBI has its reservations and concerns. But all we want them to understand is that technology needs to develop. We are trying to make them understand. Having said that, we are moving towards positive regulations. Sooner or later, industry and government will be on the same page.