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Another Day, Another Indian Crypto Exchange Launches ICO

Say what you will about the scene of cryptocurrency trading in India, it never seizes to amaze. While some incumbents and newbies are relying on Peer to Peer trading or experimenting newer ways to keep offering exchange services, some are registering abroad for a ‘Global Platform’ and doing ICOs.

One other exchange joining this list is BTCMonk. You may remember BTCMonk from our list of exchanges that do not share the owner/founder details on their websites (spoiler alert: They still don’t on BTCMonk website). Now, the exchange has been “acquired” by an Estonian company Trademonk Private Limited according to the website which is running an ICO for the new and re-branded TradeMonk exchange and merchant payment settlement services. Obviously the directors of the company are the same people.

BTCMonk offers several Crypto assets for trade in their INR, BTC and native token TMNK based markets. With the rebranding, the website says TradeMonk will support INR, EUR and TBH fiat based pairs and 100 + crypto assets can be traded with BTC, ETH and TMNK pairs as well.

TradeMonk Token Economics

A total of 28 lakh (2.8 Million) TMNK tokens which are ERC20 compliant have been generated and will be distributed as per the below plan:

  • 20% – ICO
  • 40% – Referral, Holding airdrops
  • 25% – Company Holding
  • 15% – Direct sale

Strangely, the website says 50% tokens and the white paper says 30% tokens will be “sold as tokens”, and neither of the figures match with the distribution ratio above. The token has an initial value of 0.00063878, I am assuming those are BTC units as website doesn’t say. Currently ICO investors get 5% discount on the token and the minimum investment needed is 0.1 BTC.

TradeMonk Token economics are not easily comprehensible

Every month on the 26th, 100k tokens are released into circulation. The distribution of these 100k tokens will be as per the above mentioned ratio as I understand. Another interesting thing to note is the “Direct selling” of TMNK tokens besides the ICO itself.

TMNK Token Direct Selling

The ICO of Trademonk commenced on August 6 according to the website, however I came across a message sent in telegram groups from June 29. The message included a link to a blogpost talking about 500% increase in price of TMNK tokens. The entire post is dedicated to shilling the token and the author of the post Omkar Bhalerao is the business analyst at BTCMonk. Blowing our own trumpet now, are we? But ICO started in August, how did the price increase in June?

Telegram Message about TMNK Token price action

You can buy or sell TMNK tokens on BTCMonk Exchange right now. At the time of this writing, the price of the token is 0.000576 BTC. So, you can either buy the tokens or invest in the ICO by filling the form. The ICO tokens will be distributed in TradeMonk Wallet by October 1, 2018 according to the FAQ.

Team Behind BTCMonk

The CEO of TradeMonk and BTCMonk is Ganesh Godse, his LinkedIn profile only says BTCMonk at the time of this writing. There are over 15 people I could find on LinkedIn currently working or have worked in the past for BTCMonk. It also seems like a less-than-a-year old Singapore based VC firm ‘Cipher Venture Capital‘ is associated with BTCMonk, and the former CTO of BTCMonk Shrikant Bhalerao is now the MD of latter. Couple more of Cipher executives are listed on the TradeMonk team list as well.

In the spirit of full disclosure, while I was aware of TradeMonk ICO, I only decided to read about it after I was approached by them for ‘advertising’ and was also informed that BTCMonk is still accepting INR Deposits and Withdrawals.

There are two more directors of TradeMonk according to the website, a Marine Biologist Amit Nevase and Pritesh Saitwal whose LinkedIn profile is unavailable on TradeMonk site.

More about TradeMonk

As per the whitepaper, BTCMonk had 50000+ active users which I find hard to believe looking at stats from various website ranking sources. But, TradeMonk promises to provide many more services compared to BTCMonk including, margin trading, OTC trading and escrow trading. 

On top of that, TradeMonk will also provide a merchant payment gateway so that users can pay merchants with cryptocurrency and Zero trade fees on the TMNK markets. Sounds very similar to the pitch of another exchange that is ‘going global’ called Ethx(dot)in.

TradeMonk will offer TMNK airdrops to hodlers as interest for holding to the tokens every month. They plan to launch “prepaid debit cards” for cryptocurrency as well. Everything looks neat and clean on paper, but here’s where I have a problem.

  • If an exchange is doing well in the country, why launch an ICO?
  • If you want to build a global product because you are doing awesome in India, why not get VC funding?
  • Finally, if you aren’t doing that great in India, why launch an ICO and get people to invest in something that already isn’t working?

When BitIndia did an ICO, a whopping 94.39% of tokens were burned after the sale because they weren’t sold and investors pretty much never saw their tokens return to the original value. Moreover, while I find it hard to believe BTCMonk has 50k active users, if that is true and each user just spends 2000 INR on trade a week, the exchange will make atleast 1 lakh INR in fees every week. That kind of revenue would make VCs come after you. 

At the end of the day, if your product is good and users find it beneficial they will invest. But there are just too many Indian exchanges “going global” with an ICO and at the point it just seems unrealistic to be bullish on exchanges. 

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