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India: Why Facebook’s pet crypto-project could trump other competitors

Namrata Shukla

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India: Why Facebook's pet crypto project could trump over others
Source: Pixabay

In disappointing news for Indian crypto-enthusiasts, the Indian Supreme Court adjourned the ‘Crypto Vs RBI’ case hearing on March 29, failing to bring regulatory clarity on cryptocurrencies in the country. However, almost a month after the hearing, rumors of the government’s plan to completely ban cryptocurrencies surfaced. The rumors added fuel to the fire as the Indian crypto-community panicked over the fact that they could lose their funds if the said ban was implemented. However, crypto-influencers have asked the community to be patient until the next hearing in July 2019.

Amidst the ongoing confusion in the country, Facebook, the social media giant, is planning to launch its first cryptocurrency in India in the next quarter, if reports from Bloomberg are to be believed. The publication noted that out of 50 people working for Facebook’s blockchain platform, one among five had previously worked for PayPal Holdings Inc.

Now, Facebook and the team aims to integrate payments into its platform, according to the publication. The social media giant plans on introducing a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar and allow users to transfer money across the world via Whatsapp using this stablecoin. However, the Indian government has not passed an ordinance declaring the legal status of cryptocurrencies, putting the future of the project in a limbo.

Facebook ‘stablecoin’ in India post regulation

In a scenario where the government of India deems cryptocurrencies and its transactions legal, Facebook might have a head-start in the crypto game due to Whatsapp. If the social media giant allows crypto-transfers on Whatsapp, like its payment gateway which is still running on beta, approximately 200 million users will have access to crypto-trading.

Even though many scams and thefts in the Indian crypto-sphere have surfaced, the population, in all probability, will trust Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram due to their familiarity. Michael Novogratz, a prominent Bitcoin [BTC] proponent, had said that Facebook’s launch of its own crypto is great news since it reflects the social media giant’s faith in crypto.

Why is it that Facebook would find success with their current project, while many Indian crypto-exchanges are shutting shop? There are four primary factors which could drive the Facebook-Whatsapp project to sure-shot success,

1.User base
As mentioned above, Whatsapp has over 200 million users in India alone. The addition of a crypto-payment feature after the launch of the coin is almost inevitable. The addition of a new feature for the Indian population, something like WhatsApp Pay, is quite possible as it would smoothen crypto-transfers via Whatsapp to anyone.

2. Accessibility/ Usability
Whatsapp will have an upper hand if it launches the stablecoin right after the government of India declares cryptocurrencies legal because of its accessibility factor. As and when the trend of crypto catches up in the country, its adoption could be made easier with an app that is already available on people’s cellphones, thus providing them with a larger market.

3. Layered transactions
Crypto transfers can work broadly in two ways on WhatsApp.

  • Whatsapp as a mediator

In this model, the transactions would take place directly from banks to the recipient to whom the sender wants to send their funds, via Whatsapp. Whatsapp could only act as a crypto-payment facilitator when crypto is legalized in the country.

  • Whatsapp as a wallet

If Whatsapp applies the operation of other payment apps in the country such as Paytm or Phone Pe with an in-built wallet, then transactions can take place via UPI. The user could add money to their ‘Whatsapp Wallet’ and carry out transfers and trade activities from it. However, this a loophole Whatsapp can use in case the government levies a ban on cryptocurrencies. However, it would be highly detrimental to their reputation.

From a legal perspective, this will enable many crypto-adopters to be closer to their crypto payment app, than any other medium.

4. Trustability

According to a report by Business of Apps, 82% of Indian internet users use Whatsapp, which puts the messaging app right behind Facebook and YouTube. The same report noted Whatsapp as the most active messaging social media platform in the country.

These stats provide a basis of the relationship between the people of India and Whatsapp. Whatsapp has an upper hand in gaining people’s trust and explaining the benefits of crypto to them due to its accessibility and large user base. Considering the crypto-penetration in the country, India still has a long way to go towards the adoption of crypto. Being an early service provider, Whatsapp can bring in more people due to its brand name and the value of trust it brings with it.

India and Crypto

According to a January 5 report by Economic Times, leading companies in India like Hindustan Unilever Ltd [HUL], Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, and ABG Shipyard are running pilots on using cryptocurrency for internal purposes. The report quotes that these companies won’t be in violation of any regulatory norm as they would be using the cryptocurrencies internally and not for any ‘speculative purposes.’

However, there are no updates about where these companies stand amidst rumors of a crypto-ban and the government’s shrouded regulatory stance.

As for Facebook and its trial crypto-project, the path is treacherous. If India outrightly bans cryptocurrencies in July 2019, it will have to take its pet project elsewhere as according to the law, it would be illegal to trade in any form of cryptocurrency in the country.





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XRP

XRP TipBot comes back online after a tiny downtime; Nothing to be worried about, says Wietse Wind

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XRP TipBot goes online after a tiny downtime
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XRP TipBot’s website and the corresponding application suffered a downtime on June 23, 2019 for a few hours, during which the application wasn’t showing the balance of users. The website and the API for TipBot instead, displayed a “500 Internal Error.”

A Twitter user, @BlueNETGaming, tweeted Wietse Wind, inquiring the same. Wind confirmed that it was just an “infrastructure blip,” and that there was nothing to be worried about.

Wind tweeted,

XRP TipBot is probably the first and most widely accepted use-case of XRP. It leverages the transaction settling time of XRP Ledger to make tipping easy among peers on Twitter, Reddit, and other platforms, and this was the brainchild of developer Wietse Wind.

After TipBot, a lot of other cryptocurrencies have tried to mimic this idea of facilitating tipping; an example being Bitcoin’s, Tippin.Me which leveraged Lightning Network for tipping users. Although successful, it isn’t as popular as Wind’s TipBot.

The reason behind the same is that XRP Ledger allows transaction settlement in under 5 seconds, which makes tipping fast and efficient, unlike Bitcoin’s transactions which take a few minutes for transactions to be confirmed.

This is same reason why XRP is being used as a liquidity provider for cross-border payments in Ripple’s proprietary product, xRapid.

XRP community is a tightly-knit community with people who are very bullish about XRP’s success. There are equally talented developers in the community who are developing apps that help create more use-cases for XRP.

SchlaubiDev is one such developer known for developing plugins for Gmail and Microsoft Office, plugins that allow a user to send XRP over e-mails.

Ripple has identified Wind and his team’s talent and inducted them into Xpring, which finances them to help develop more community-based apps for increasing XRP use-cases.





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