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A Chat with the CEO of WazirX, the New Talk-of-the-Town Cryptocurrency Exchange

If you are a crypto-enthusiast, trader or investor, by now you must have gotten familiar with the following message or a variation of it circulating across social media.

I just signed up on WazirX Bitcoin exchange and earned WRX coins. They’re giving away 350 WRX coins free to anyone who signs up early using this link – https://wazirx.com/#/invite/bqu3sI

This is nothing but a promotional message of a new Indian Cryptocurrency exchange launching in March of 2018. Each signup gives you 250-500 WRX coins. WRX being a new coin introduced by WazirX.

So what is WazirX?

The opening window of WazirX

Crowdfire founder Nischal Shetty’s entry into the world of Cryptocurrency exchanges begins with the launch of WazirX, quite possibly India’s 20th exchange. We certainly are losing count as a new exchange is popping up every week. WazirX that is currently running a massive sign up campaign has managed to gather 30000 signups in past 24 hours (ending Feb 9th) according to the official blog. The actual user count is supposedly much higher.

Why launch a new exchange when there are already so many of them? 

“None of them (other exchanges) are transparent. They don’t communicate well with their users. I’ve come across instances where they change fees whenever they want without informing users. They charge ridiculously high fees because they don’t care to be fair to their users”, Nischal Shetty, WazirX’s CEO informed Coin Crunch India in an email correspondence.

Shetty added that the existing exchanges do not offer a good product and that they (WazirX) are here to change that.

Whether WazirX follows through on the promise, we will only know after it launches. WazirX is already testing their exchange apps on iOS and Android. “We’ll be launching them around the same time”, Nischal replied to our question about the launch schedule of web platform and mobile apps. “We plan to launch in March, 2018.” he added.


What are WRX Coins/tokens and why are they giving them away for free?

Just like Bitcoin, WRX is a digital asset, the website FAQ reads. There is not enough information about the distribution of the WRX coins besides the ones being given away as sign up and referral bonus. Out of the 1 Billion WRX coins, only 150 Million are planned to be distributed.

So what about the other 850 Million? “We’ll reveal that at the right time”, replied Nischal.

Where can you use your WRX tokens? You have to wait for WazirX to launch and allow WRX trading. You won’t find it on any other exchange just yet. A genuine concern looms over the future of WRX tokens and the use until the company provides more clarification. “Who cares, they are free”, a telegram user Dudelogic replied to me when I asked him What is WRX token and what is the use of it. 

My mother taught me one thing, There are no free lunches. You are sharing your private information in return of a promise of receiving free coins. That brings me to the other aspect of a new exchange.

How safe is it?

“Transparency and Trust is what we want everyone to associate WazirX with”, Nischal added on the email. The website boasts Best in class security. 

A doctor and investor friend of mine once told me, “These are IIT kids who run exchanges. They are less than 25 and handle cryptocurrencies worth hundreds of crores of Rupees. You don’t know when they get greedy and run away with your money, claiming they were hacked“. To date I haven’t been able to counter his argument besides saying But they can’t just do that. 

The mentality is curbing the growth of startups. The exchanges come with advisors, lawyers and investors to back them up. Most core developers are younger than 25, Vitalik, the Ethereum co-founder is 23.

“This mindset is not good for the startup community”, a co-founder of a popular exchange once told me.

But the team remains of heavy importance. You need to know who is running the show and hold them accountable for when something goes wrong. Do your research before you invest. It’s highly important.

Who is behind WazirX?

who started wazirx
Nischal Shetty Founder and CEO of WazirX, Crowdfire

By now I believe you have figured out that Crowdfire co-founder Nischal Shetty is the CEO of WazirX. The man made it to the Forbes India 30 under 30 list. The core team includes Sameer Mhatre and Siddharth Menon, both co-founders of Crowdfire. Formerly known as JustUnfollow, Crowdfire currently serves more than 19 million users around the world.

On bringing in the same team on board, Nischal says “You trust each other more, you know each others strengths and weaknesses better and you can move fast as a team. The three of us compliment each other in our skill sets so that helps a lot“.

The actual team size is bigger than three but Nischal did not want to disclose it “right now”.

What about government regulations and banks?

Cryptocurrency exchange is not an easy business to run in India. Besides the security risk, another threat looms the industry. One that of the regulatory bodies of India. Although Bitcoin is not yet banned, we can’t be sure if the trades will be made legal or illegal in the coming future. Currently the exchanges are self-regulatory with their own KYC/AML policies in place.

But what about banks? The banks have been tight lipped about their stance on cryptocurrencies and slowly but steadily some banks have withdrawn their support.

“We’re in talks and yeah, a lot of them aren’t clear about cryptos and hence are afraid to make the move I guess. We hope they start seeing how crypto can be beneficial to them and to society as a whole and start investing time understanding it and eventually supporting companies that build for the blockchain”, the CEO replied on being asked about the difficulties they faced in partnering with banks.

Is there an ICO for WazirX on cards?

Remember Binance? From a mere ICO to one of world’s largest cryptocurrencies exchange, the journey of Binance has been nothing short of phenomenal. The ICO sold the BNB tokens at 2300 – 2700 tokens per ETH with a promise of discount in trading fees if paid in BNB tokens.

Looks like WazirX might be on the same lines. Possibly that is their plan for the other 850 Million tokens. We don’t know yet. Here’s what Nischal said, “We’ll have more clarity on these things once we launch our trading platform. I’m a geek and I believe that at the initial stage, geeks don’t need funding to create something useful that people want”.

What does WazirX exchange look like?

The home page of WazirX opens to an option to sign up or log in. After you log in, you are asked to complete KYC. But that is it. No one outside WazirX’s Vashi office knows what the exchange or the mobile apps look like.

Coin Crunch India’s request to view screenshots were denied by WazirX but a tempting offer to see a demo in their office is still on the table.

The exchange will offer Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and more to trade, says the website right now.



Coin Crunch India’s Opinion:

In the spirit of fairness this needs to be disclosed. We did go through some of the articles on WazirX circulating on the web. While masses are registering on the new exchange there are a few who are skeptical to the extent of calling it a scam.

We believe that information like your PAN, Aadhaar and Bank account details are sensitive and one must remain careful before sharing this info. Free coins/tokens are not always a good idea as you can be scammed for your information. We are keeping an open mind about WazirX only because of a good team behind the project. Unless we see the actual trade engine in works, we cannot be sure of the product.

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