Bitcoin volatility pushes Indian crypto users to Stablecoins

Bitcoin volatility pushes Indian crypto users to Stablecoins

Bitex, which is headquartered in United Arab Emirates and entered India in November last year, claims that USDT trading volumes grew nine-times in April compared to last month, when it first launched the stablecoin on its platform. This was double the growth in Bitcoin volumes for Bitex, which grew three-times year-on-year in April. The trading volumes for Tether, often dubbed as crypto-cash, have grown exponentially, claim exchanges WazirX, Unocoin, Bitex and ZebPay, even as growth in Bitcoin trading volumes has slowed. “Even for us, the USDT volumes grew nearly five-fold to $3 million in April compared to last year, as many of our traders liquidated their Bitcoin holdings and converted them into stablecoins,” said Sathvik Vishwanath, founder and chief executive of Unocoin, one of the oldest crypto exchanges in India.

The most common stablecoin traded on Indian exchanges is USDT or Tether that roughly trades at over or equal to $1 apiece. Abhishek and Sharma represent a growing pool of Indian crypto users who are now starting to hedge the inherent risk in Bitcoin, which has dominated trade so far across the country’s crypto exchanges. And as they do, stablecoins, which are pegged to an underlying asset such as the U.S. dollar and tend to be less volatile, are gaining popularity.

We have seen the highest-ever volumes in stablecoins in India in the last two months, said Vikram Rangala, chief marketing officer at ZebPay. “Indian investors, like their global counterparts, are diversifying into stablecoins for a few reasons. One is to have a stable-priced counterweight in their portfolio to volatile assets like Bitcoin and altcoins. Another is to use it to transact in dollar amounts— for online purchases or to buy other digital tokens,” he said. 26-year-old Karan Sharma, who has been investing in crypto tokens since 2017, has also increased the portion of stablecoins in his portfolio for similar reasons. “Given, Bitcoin prices have been extremely volatile after reaching peak-levels, it makes sense to convert part of holdings in stablecoins so that the returns don’t fluctuate too much,” he said.

“A dip in bitcoin prices also causes the prices of altcoins to drop thereby encouraging traders to buy into the dip. So, any market correction causes traders to buy stablecoins such as USDT, so that they can buy more altcoins with it,” said Siddharth Menon, co-founder and chief operating officer at WazirX. A third possible reason for higher stablecoin volumes in India, according to Monark Modi, founder and chief executive at Bitex, is the uncertain regulatory environment around cryptocurrencies in India and across the globe. As more institutional investors turn to buying cryptocurrencies, governments across the world are taking an active interest in how these tokens should either be regulated or banned, Modi said. Hedging volatility remains the key factor attracting crypto users to stablecoins even globally. Bitcoin, which rose as high as $64,870 this year, has retreated back to $55,000. The cryptocurrency is still up about 90% year-to-date. Other tokens have corrected in line with Bitcoin, pushing demand towards stablecoins.

The shift being seen in India mirrors what is happening globally. Trading volumes of Tether had more than doubled to $171 billion as of April 20 compared to $54 billion a year ago, as per the latest data available on global cryptocurrency data tracker CoinMarketCap.com. Bitcoin trading volumes grew at a relatively slower pace at 80% year-on-year to $68 billion over this period. BloombergQuint could not independently verify these volumes as no official source of data is available.

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