Transcription Episode 21

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today I’m speaking to Upinder. So I’ve known Upinder for a while, since our SLP days, and you know, those were quiet heydays.

SLP for the uninitiated is the Startup Leadership Program. He is the co-founder of Coinforks, which is doing tremendously well. And now, as he tells us in this particular interview, he’s running at a hedge fund as well.

It was a very, very interesting conversation, especially touching upon, you know, the way crypto is being treated in the subcontinent at large, especially in India. So let’s deep dive right in. Hi, Upinder.

Thank you so much for taking out the time to speak to us today. How are you doing? Thanks a lot, Tarusha. So I am doing very well.

How about you? I’m doing great. So could you tell us a little about your background and how you got into the crypto space? Okay, yes. So I got into the crypto space around five years back.

And when I came to know about Bitcoin through my friends, I was actually running my call center. So that time I got to know Bitcoin as a payment mode for our customers as an alternative. So when I got to know, like, why Bitcoin is created, what are the fundamentals about Bitcoin? So I was fascinated about it.

And I quickly decided to switch my existing career path to, you know, crypto. So that, you know, because I felt that, you know, this is going to be the future. And why not, you know, enter now, because very few people are there in the market are aware about it.

And there is ample opportunity available for that. Yeah. It sounds like, you know, a quick but good decision that you made at that juncture.

So what are you working on currently? Okay. So like when I came into crypto space, I started, you know, exploring the opportunities. I started crypto trading.

I invested, first of all, myself. And then I got an opportunity to work with project Ethland, which is Aave today. Very, like number one DeFi project, right? So did an ICO very well.

I managed Indian subcontinent entirely. And then, you know, after that, I got a chance to work with projects like Ztips. I, you know, came up with this project Ztips, which was focused on crime reporting using blockchain.

And, you know, then I worked on CoinFox. At present, CoinFox is happening. And apart from CoinFox, I have started one more venture, which I haven’t announced yet.

If I simply talk about CoinFox right now, CoinFox is a trading platform. Maybe the people who are in India, they know about Zerodha. It is a very well known trading platform for stocks or NSEBSC.

Similarly, like CoinFox can be considered as Zerodha of crypto world where, you know, people can trade on multiple exchanges through CoinFox. And CoinFox provides better trading infrastructure for professional traders. That’s what CoinFox is all about.

And apart from CoinFox right now, I have recently started my hedge fund and that’s ChainAssets Capital. And this hedge fund, we are managing portfolios of our clients. And yeah, we are actively investing into some of the projects as well through ChainAssets Capital.

That’s what I’m doing right now. Wow, that sounds like you have quite a full plate on your hands. So with this particular hedge fund that you are managing, are you investing in DeFi projects as well? Yeah, I mean, we are right now investing in DeFi projects primarily.

We are not limited to DeFi projects. But yeah, I mean, that all depends upon what the current trend is saying to us. So at present, current trend is about DeFi NFT space.

And we are looking out for investments over there, but it’s not the primary focus. Our hedge fund’s primary focus is towards trading fund where we are managing our client portfolios. We are actively working on to scale that to a couple of million dollars.

And the investment fund is actually, you know, it started like very casually. You know, one opportunity came to me and I liked it much and I just, you know, invested into it. And, you know, there we thought, you know, this can be a good way to, you know, kickstart the investment fund as well, maybe going forward.

So we are not like actively right now investing into multiple DeFi projects. But we are still open to consider if any other good investment opportunities come forward. Okay, that sounds good.

So how do projects kind of get in touch with you? I think I’m available on Twitter very easily. Anybody can message me. But I have not yet announced anyone or anywhere that I am investing at stage for any projects because I think I want to remain low key right now.

So my personal preference is, you know, when people in the industry are investing and they are doing some credible work, I mean, they do get visible. Right. And we all are well connected industries.

You know, in the nascent stage, we all are very, I mean, it’s the community is still very small. So if anyone is doing something, other person gets to know that. Okay, he’s doing something.

Right. So I am not right now, you know, telling anyone that I am actively investing. I’m just, you know, keeping an eye on the industry and I myself, you know, observing.

Okay, I can, you know, find an opportunity to invest. I think I am keeping my approach this way. Yeah, that’s a good, you know, sort of take to midnight right now considering everything that is happening and what you said regarding the ecosystem being small.

That’s very true. If somebody is doing something, you know, we come to know because we are well connected and been there in the industry for some time. So, you know, you mentioned how, you know, DeFi is not obviously the main focus.

But what would be your take around the DeFi space? Because it’s been making a lot of noise. Yeah, I mean, DeFi is not just making a noise. DeFi is actually, you know, proving out to be a very good opportunity as well as very good, you know, a use case where, you know, it is fulfilling a lot of shortcomings in the industry, right? So DeFi is not just hype like, you know, I have seen the whole IPO hype, ICO India in 2017 and 18, right? So it was a complete bubble.

People were, you know, talking bullshit and they were just raising money, right? Everybody was promising, but, you know, there was no delivery, right? And anyhow, and from that day or from ICO days only, like when I work with ITLAT project, ITLAT had a working product from the day one. They released, you know, ICO just on a white paper. They had a working product.

That kind of has become standard today in the DeFi space where, you know, if any project is coming, they are not coming up with a white paper that, okay, we will do this. First, give us money. No, people are now what the good part about DeFi is that, you know, they are coming up with a working product.

Okay, this is a product that is working. Now, you know, see if we are credible enough to get invested or not. And moreover, you know, the second best part about DeFi is that, you know, they have shifted from asking money to, you know, provide a liquidity mining, you know, opportunity where one can provide liquidity.

But the only challenge remains here is that if the DeFi smart contracts are secure enough that the investor does not get impacted by the hack of the smart contracts. So this liquidity mining and incentivization is definitely a way to go for DeFi space. But I feel now it has kind of saturated also where, you know, everybody is trying to provide tokens through liquidity mining.

But the moment, you know, the liquidity incentives get finished, the liquidity actually, you know, gets right up from that protocol and it has actually no use case. Otherwise, after that, there should be some practical use case of that product, then only that liquidity mining also makes sense. Yeah, no, I understand.

Essentially, it needs to be solving some sort of a problem. It cannot just be, you know, on the basis of liquidity mining because liquidity mining became like big. And as you said that the market is kind of saturated now.

And unless that token has real utility post that liquidity mining bit, obviously, those projects will not really, you know, last very long. So, you know, that is a fairly good point. But having said that, and you know how DeFi is kind of, you know, obviously trying, there are a lot of projects that are trying to solve some real problems.

What are some projects that, you know, you think are doing really well and they have a long term vision? Okay. So, you know, talking about the entire DeFi space, I categorize DeFi space into different use cases. Like, you know, there is one space where entire lending space is there.

Then there is another space where yielding based space is there. Then there is a space where NFTs are coming, right? NFT based projects are coming. Then there is a space, I consider myself, Oracle is also a part of DeFi space.

But then, you know, there is a recently new space has emerged through API based projects, right? Because these are all kind of interconnected with each other. Now, you know how these projects are, if I talk about some key projects, you know, like synthetics, Aave, Pound, these are like layer one DeFi projects. If I talk about decentralized exchange, you know, space, DEXs are there like, you know, Uniswap, SushiSwap.

These are doing very good. The volume is real time over there. Then, you know, now the narrative is actually switching to layer two blockchains as well, where new projects are emerging on layer two blockchains like Matic Network.

EasyFi has come over there as a lending protocol. Then, you know, a lot of DeFi based projects are emerging on Polkadot. I think a lot of blockchains which were not being used by anyone, they have also sort of started pushing this narrative of DeFi to attract the liquidity.

And the best part happening now through this DeFi is that, you know, now everybody’s not trying to compete with Ethereum. Everybody’s trying to bridge with Ethereum. You know, if you talk about Avalanche, if you talk about Solana, if you talk about Polkadot.

Now, even if you talk about, you know, Cardano or any other fail blockchain, like maybe Blockstack, everybody’s trying to bridge with Ethereum in some or other way. Because everybody have accepted this fact that, you know, the most of liquidity is staying on Ethereum, even after high fees. So why not, you know, invite those liquidity or those investors which are loyal to Ethereum or who want to stick with Ethereum? Why not invite them through bridging solutions to our blockchain rather than just pitching them, OK, you know, leave that Ethereum and come over our ecosystem? No, the people want to stay on Ethereum because there is a kind of a trust that has been established among everyone that, OK, Ethereum is a secure blockchain and it has just tested a lot.

So we want to keep our major chunk of funds on Ethereum and maybe we can, you know, migrate or we can put some part of the funds on some other layer 2 blockchains if we get some, you know, good benefit out of there. I think Binance Merchant is picking up very well. They are also providing the bridging solutions these days.

So in my view, the projects which are going to do very well going forward is where the bridging actually happens, where the lending is going to stay. Right now, lending is mostly on Ethereum blockchain. Then, you know, lending alone cannot come on blockchains like Matic or Binance until there is a bridge.

Now, the projects which are providing the successful bridging or one tap bridging, right, like very easy bridging for investors from Ethereum to any other blockchain. And then, you know, how these different blockchains are communicating to each other through these bridging solutions that will definitely matter a lot. And from there, you know, how the lending services, you know, get managed on these different, you know, blockchains and how the DEXs are, you know, communicated with each other for swapping.

Let’s just imagine like, you know, there is BEP2, BEP20 like Binance Merchant based token that is there on there. Like just imagine if I want to swap the token on Binance Merchant through PancakeSwap and with the token that is listed on Ethereum or maybe with the token that is listed on Polkadot. So it should be that butter smooth.

Just like I am using a swapping on Uniswap, by just one tap, everything is being handled at the back end. Just imagine if the same thing is being handled where, you know, these multiple DEXs from different blockchains speak to each other from the back. So I think that is going to be a very important thing.

And the one who actually cracks this, who successfully bridges both sides will be the one who I think will lead the DeFi market. And then in my sense, the NFT space is also going to be very big going forward. If I talk about your project also, you know, to be honest, Oro Pocket, like it is specifically focusing on gold backed tokens.

It actually makes sense. Now the only thing is, you know, how the gold is being brought on different blockchains will definitely, you know, be dependent. How the utilities surrounding the gold is also being brought.

And then players like Synthetix, you know, they will also create a lot of impact. Anything, you know, can be brought over blockchain through Synthetix markets. This is my current view about this.

I think this space has a lot of opportunity and a lot of, I would say, chances available where we may even not know, you know, what new things can emerge. Like the VN Finance has come up with, right? If I talk about my own vision, like I’m running a hedge fund today. I sometimes felt, you know, how I can, you know, manage the funds of clients where all the clients stay in their respective wallets.

I just don’t do, you know, take the funds into my possession. I don’t even need their funds to be sitting on centralized exchanges like Binance. So such things are going to be the next big wave where they will push up the adoption of DeFi.

So I think Yearn Finance has done a pretty good job over there. You know, it is providing yield. They are like yield aggregators.

So projects like Curve Finance come, then, you know, this, I think, algorithm-based stablecoins, they are also, you know, going to be emerged a lot with time. Maybe, you know, bringing other blockchain-based cryptos like Bitcoin, Zcash or Bitcoin Cash on Ethereum or maybe other blockchains. Definitely, you know, the kind of interoperability and composability is being, you know, brought up by multiple projects.

It’s going to be a fun, I would say. Yeah, definitely. You know, I think what you said about Hub is, you know, this kind of space has a lot of potential and immense opportunities moving forward.

Because there is still so much left to do, you know, this industry, this technology is still, it’s an infancy. And there are all kinds of financial services that can be, you know, brought on to blockchain. And not just financial services, as you said, anything can be brought on to a blockchain.

And that is why we are, you know, seeing this boom in NFTs. And to think that, you know, there are, there’s a large chunk of creators who have not even heard of NFTs. Obviously, the potential is immense.

So, you know, talking about some good NFT projects, which projects do you think are, you know, doing immensely well and, you know, you are rooting for them? Okay. So, I think, see, personally, if I talk about NFT space right now, I still don’t see any good project or any leader, you know, particular leader that is leading. Because, you know, NFT space is so much overhyped and still there is no practical solution or, you know, practical use case based projects are there in the market.

There has to be, if I simply talk about a particular problem of NFT, you know, everybody is trying to create NFTs, right? Everybody is like, but where will I use those NFTs in my real life? If I talk about the NFT space, you know, if I talk about Aave today, they are providing the yield. Like if I have Ethereum in my wallet, they’re sitting idle. They are not doing anything.

I simply lend those Ethereum to Aave protocol. I get some yield. That is totally understandable.

If I have, let’s say, some stable coins in my wallet, they have replaced the need of bank accounts. If I want to make an FD of those accounts, I can simply go to money market protocols like Aave or Compound. I start getting, you know, returns on that, right? Idle money.

That is a practical use case. If I talk about NFT today, right? If, okay, I say that this art is unique in itself, this song is unique in itself, fine. But, you know, there is no way to prove the authenticity of that NFT, right? That this is unique, number one.

Anybody can, you know, do that. Even if I have, the copyright infringement is also very much possible in this case. Secondly, when we talk about assigning the value, I mean, how the intrinsic value of those NFTs is decided is a big question mark to me.

Like, and will that value sustain or retain is again a question mark to me. Now, let’s imagine if I have created an NFT and I say I want to sell this NFT for 10 Ethereum. First of all, how does the amount of 10 Ethereum is decided? And secondly, the person who is purchasing that NFT, let’s say for 10 Ethereum, how is he going to get benefit out of it? Like, if I have acquired, let’s say some crypto of 10 Ethereum, I know that I can go back and maybe at least sell.

Even if there is some price differential, I still can manage to get 8 Ethereum back out of that crypto, right? But if I have acquired an NFT of 10 Ethereum, how will I even get back 1 Ethereum of that NFT? Well, if anyone else does not agree to buy my NFT in return, or even if I have, let’s say, bought an NFT of 10 Ethereum, is it possible that, you know, I can at least, you know, lend my NFT to money market protocols and at least get 1 Ethereum worth of flow? I don’t think so. So this is the major problem that I see in NFT space. And that’s the real reason that, you know, I feel that NFT space is still too much overhyped.

Everybody’s just creating the NFTs, it is being used for fun, but still some out of the box solution has not arrived yet. So until that solution arrives, I will not say any particular project as a leader, but I can mention that some projects like, you know, which everyone is, you know, talking about, maybe Rarible, everyone is talking about, OpenSea, everyone is talking about, right? Argochi, everyone is talking about, then a lot of other NFT based projects are also coming. So, yeah, I mean, let’s see how the NFT market goes this year.

I hope that, you know, NFT space is going to do very well this year because some project will emerge and, you know, they will solve some of the good problems from this phase. Yeah. So I think what you said about NFTs and how do you decide their inherent value? Those are good questions.

And I think that is what, you know, people who are coming up with NFTs, at least the ones who have a long term vision, they’re also grappling with. So that is a fairly good point, which kind of, you know, brings me to my next question. You know, who are some thought leaders or people you think that, you know, kind of give out the right kind of information and have an in-depth knowledge about the subject? Who are those thought leaders who you think our listeners should also keep in mind? Okay.

So I personally, you know, try to follow two type of people from the space. One is who are investors investing into DeFi projects, right? And second, those who are already like who’s DeFi projects or maybe crypto projects have reached to some level. They are, you know, always sharing some good thought process.

Now people like, you know, Balaji Srinivasan, people like Naval Ravikant or people like, you know, the developers of Ethereum, the investors, maybe investors from Coinbase Ventures or other key investors in the market. There are so many investors that you can easily find out from the Twitter. These are the people who I try to follow personally.

Then people like Andrej Krome or people or maybe, you know, the top DeFi based project based founders, right? If you follow them, you know, we get to know their thought process. And that’s how we try to decode what is there in the market and you know, how, what is the void in the market. So this is the one way of doing the research.

And second way of doing like understanding or searching more about this subject is how like we interact with the overall crypto community from different forums. Maybe, you know, we go on Reddit or we maybe, you know, we go to different telegram groups where actual talks about different projects is happening. I try to stay away from those people who are only interested in, you know, like investing into the projects on the name of, okay, this will become 10x.

This has a potential of 10x or 20x. No, I try to, you know, go and try to find those groups where, you know, I can find the right people who are talking about the potential problems, how they can be solved. So I think we all have connections to one or other person in our community from where we can get the leads to get to such communities.

So either DeFi based communities on telegram or maybe WhatsApp or maybe, you know, following some people on Twitter, but one can easily find the right communities. They can, you know, check the top DeFi project founders. They can find out the top investors of DeFi, maybe through websites like DeFi pearls or DeFi prime.

Then, you know, one can easily Google top DeFi investors. Then like, even if you start following some key people like Andre Crone or Steady or these different project founders, they start giving you suggestions to follow other people. Yeah, similar accounts.

And that can be very, very insightful. It can be like a domino effect, right? Once you step in. Yeah.

There is a sense of hyper growth as soon as you sort of step in and start following people in the crypto space because crypto is so much more than just tokens. You know, you learn about the monetary system, the history and, you know, about traditional finance and how it’s broken. So I believe that there is a hyper growth that kind of takes place once you sort of step into this place.

And, you know, very good points made that, you know, if you’re following a particular project, then, you know, their founder or perhaps the relevant investors would help you get more insights into this space. So this kind of leads me to the elephant in the room. The Indian government and, you know, there’s a lot of speculation about the kind of bill that they will be bringing in to regularize or, you know, sort of being cryptocurrency like, you know, either ban it or regularize it or tax it.

What is your take on all this speculation that is going around? I think we are in some common groups also, right? Like on WhatsApp or you must have seen me, you know, staying silent on such conversations and or maybe not staying little cool on such conversations because, you know, I have been to the spaces last five years. This is like, you know, redundant to me. It’s happening again and again.

So every time, you know, media comes up with some new thing and first flowing into the market, you know, it’s I’m used to all such news now. So I kind of, you know, ignore all these things until some, you know, official statement comes from the government, right? Like, you know, RBI, when they pushed a ban on banking services for the crypto, that was a big move. If a Supreme Court has quashed or has dismissed that ban in against by RBI.

So that was a news, right? That was worth discussing or worth noting. But if some outlet is coming up with some, whatever their XYZ sources or, you know, they are saying whatever they are speculating on that. Yeah, it’s always vague.

And it’s like, you know, as you said, it’s basically there to add to the FUD and, you know, kind of like scare people. But, you know, it’s a good thing to have that you kind of ignore it. Moreover, I genuinely don’t understand how would banning even go about, right? It’s decentralized.

That’s the whole essentially. Yeah. How do you even go about banning something like that? The most that you can do is perhaps, you know, the fear on ramp for INR, you know, might get like affected.

But then moving forward, I don’t know what kind of an impact would that really have. Like, you know, people who have been in this space for some time, they have enough experience to understand the kind of impact that this will have. And, you know, how banning sounds like a scary word.

But in essence, it’s not even possible. Absolutely. Yes.

Because, you know, this is the same reason that, you know, whoever comes to me, either, you know, I keep on interacting with people who are software developers or maybe who are lawyers or who are, you know, government officials or maybe, you know, who are businessmen. I keep on, you know, getting interacted with such different flavor of people. I, you know, give a simple one thing.

Number one, you have to understand the little bit of the functionality of crypto, how the crypto works. How, you know, if crypto is existing for last 12 years, if the adoption is increasing, more and more people are getting crazy about crypto. Even after government is warning, you know, that this is not safe or whatever the bullshit reasoning they are saying, you have to, you know, sit with pen and paper.

Or maybe you have to, you know, take a deep breath and ask yourself, OK, why everyone is getting excited about crypto? Right. If try to find the answer about it. Once you find the answer, you will understand crypto cannot be stopped.

It can never be stopped. Right. Because whom we consider as a benchmark, crypto cannot, can never be stopped.

It definitely is Bitcoin. Right. So if Bitcoin cannot be stopped, then other crypto services can never be stopped.

What can be stopped is actually not there in existence. Like people who are talking that even if the government is saying private cryptocurrencies will not be allowed. In my view, private cryptocurrencies are not privacy-based cryptocurrencies like Moero or Zcash.

In my view, private cryptocurrencies is like when anyone can, you know, issue their tokens and sell those tokens to Bholewale or maybe the innocent investors. Right. And scam with that.

I agree with that point where scamming involves, but I disagree with that point that any, you know, right now, I don’t see any project, even if the founders are from India, they’re emerging from India, but they have not even registered their companies in India. They know that, you know, such legal problems can happen in the future. And even if, you know, the strictest regulation also comes into the country tomorrow, we are all prepared for it.

We are all prepared because we have not issued the tokens in Indian jurisdiction. If anyone is going to, you know, issue the tokens from other jurisdiction, the legalities has been set up in a way that, you know, it is never going to impact the project. Right.

All worst case scenario for the founders, maybe, you know, that they may have to migrate to some other country. And that’s the most unfortunate part for India itself, where they will lose all these big talent brains. The massive brain drain will start happening.

So I think government must be understanding this also, that, you know, if brain drain happens, then, you know, they are going to lose because their economy is anyways, you know, in a very worse position right now. I don’t think the government will try to mess up with that because, you know, whoever says, you know, India has a very good opportunity. This ticket belongs to India, but on the ground level, the numbers are very bad.

It’s very, very demotivating. If at least we have to keep India moving, we have to provide some level of independence to entrepreneurs of India to experiment so that, you know, they come and, you know, bring some progress in India, bring some new experiments in India, you know, so that it can help economy grow at the end of the day. And I think government will stay responsible while, you know, breaking some regulations for cryptocurrency.

I don’t think the outright ban will happen. It’s just the media that they are playing with the fund. I have also understood, you know, they don’t want people to, I think, they don’t want people to, you know, earn good amount of money.

They just want people to be scared all the time so that, you know, people stay out of this opportunity. This is what I feel. No, that’s absolutely true.

I think, yeah, I think, you know, as there is a lot of like, obviously, there are lots of pros of India, but there are several cons as well. As a society, we tend to hate on the rich people, right? And the middle class is kind of kept suppressed so that they will keep their head down and they will be so stuck in the survival, being in the survival mode that they are not looking to thrive. And by bringing in such, you know, such kind of policy or newsmakers, you know, who are talking about, you know, speculating, basically, they’re not even talking, they’re speculating about potentially something coming in.

First of all, I think the very foundation of knowledge is not there because, you know, essentially, as we’ve already reiterated, that it is not something that can be banned because it’s very inherent value is decentralized. The only thing that you can perhaps do is, you know, okay, you know, you will stop the, something like, you know, stopping the banking services or the INR ramp would be kind of coming to play again. But then again, you know, you touched upon that.

The projects here, because they were hit hard the last time this knee-jerk sort of a reaction happened and this notice came out. You know, people have learned and entrepreneurs have basically set up bases abroad. And obviously this will, if this something like this comes into play, it will lead to brain rain, which does not spell well for the country at all.

Especially right now with the kind of state the economy is in, they can talk about big numbers, but you know, the smaller numbers that they don’t really talk about, essentially a point towards the fact that our economy will be absolutely flat in the next two years. And it’s already in shambles with this COVID situation. So I don’t think that that will be a good move to make.

But then again, you know, I do believe that the basic knowledge is kind of missing. And somehow that kind of understanding is missing because otherwise the entire outlook and the narrative in the media would also be very different. Yes.

I tell you two, three key reasons why this is. Number one is like the society itself is not, you know, risk averse. They are not ready to take the risk.

Even in a small amount of risk they can afford to take. No, they don’t want to take. Right.

Now, since after lockdown, Indian stock market has moved where every other person is actually entering into stock market. Right. Previously this was not the case.

And second problem is that, you know, the key difference, there was a joke also flowing out, but that’s a sad reality that, you know, Indian society and Indian parents, they consider trading or maybe, you know, stocks, it’s all gamble. They consider it as, okay, he is an investor in stocks. Okay.

He is not actually an investor. He’s a gambler. So he is not doing anything.

He’s a waste. If the person is, you know, six figures, no, that does not matter. If the, but the person has a good job in companies like Infosys or TCS.

Okay. He is more secure. His life is more secure.

His future is more secure. That’s bullshit. It’s about stability.

Right. Somehow, but the illusion of stability, right. You can be thrown out of TCS and Infosys as well.

Right. With the kind of economy, the way everything is changing. Yeah.

Because everybody is focusing on getting a secure job out of the college. Nobody is focusing on teaching their children how to stay financially secure, how to, you know, become financially independent, how to become free from the financial burdens. Everybody is, you know, everybody gets excited to, you know, buy a new test iPhone or maybe the latest launched car, but nobody gets excited about the new investment opportunity.

They say, okay, I cannot take a risk of, you know, opportunity of investing in some good company or maybe in good project. I would rather want to, you know, buy a hundred thousand rupees worth of iPhone. You know, people are more, you know, prepared mentally towards acquiring the liabilities than acquiring the assets.

The key financial foundation is not being provided by the schools and colleges. Everybody’s focusing on the other side of the coin. That’s why most of the people are still, you know, dependent upon the governmental policies to get the right job.

Maybe, you know, if they want to secure their life, they want government jobs. They don’t want to understand like, you know, how they can progress themselves. This is where the key difference is coming.

And if entrepreneurs in India, they are doing very hard, you know, to lift themselves up. It has also become a kind of a stereotype joke, you know, in the society. He is an entrepreneur, he does not do anything, right? He does not do anything.

I mean, you must have gone through that phase yourself also. Absolutely. Yeah.

So I think, you know, in Indian society, we look for external validation too much. If there is some external validation, then, you know, it’s okay. Otherwise, if somebody is going like, okay, you know, look at this, I’ve created this best product in the world, people will not be supportive.

That is something that, because as you said, the society is very risk averse, and everybody’s looking for the illusion of, you know, stability, because it is an illusion, ultimately, like, you know, it’s a similar thing, like illusion of control, people think they’re in control, they’re not. Right. Absolutely, absolutely.

I mean, I think changes are happening slowly, and it will pick up with time and you know, people will realize that, you know, those who took risks, they have grown in a much exponential manner than them, and then they will realize that they will also try to onboard the train with us. But yeah, I mean, then it becomes our responsibility to, you know, to become, or maybe to, you know, act very responsibly, you know, providing them, okay, we should make mistakes, they should avoid the mistakes that we did, so that they don’t get demotivated, and they don’t get back. If they have onboarded, or if they are willing to onboard, we should welcome them.

And you know, that’s how I think we as a society will grow further. That’s what I think. Yeah, no, that’s absolutely true.

I think, you know, the essence is that, you know, even with, you know, so many big companies coming into play, and they kind of believe in Bitcoin now with PayPal, with Tesla, you know, with micro strategy, even then, I believe that right now, currently, people know about it, and they’re getting curious about it, you know, why is it really making news, but they’re still a little unsure, because I believe that, you know, again, as a society, we operate more out of fear than anything else. So, you know, our decisions and our thinking, it’s all based on fear, based on survival. Right.

Absolutely, absolutely. I think, see, I personally am fascinated by trading a lot. All the trading strategies that I follow, you know, I kind of sometimes, you know, try to correlate with our life also.

I, you know, like we say that the risk management plays a very key role in, you know, mitigating our losses, right? Similarly, if we, you know, create the risk management strategies in our life, I think we learn how we can take some calculated risks in our life, I think we can cut down our losses, and we can get some better returns from our life also. So people should focus on that, you know, think that in that way. It’s basically about, you know, it’s about sort of finding newer and better avenues so that, you know, you’re not just surviving life, but you’re thriving in it.

And that idea in itself can be very, you know, alien in a country like ours, where as I said that, you know, people are just trying to get by. Yeah, yeah. See, most people, when they come to crypto, they mostly, you know, they get invited by those people who are coming up with an investment opportunity in some MLM.

Like they just want to get rich quickly. Yeah, make a quick buck. They want quick bucks.

I have many friends who lost their money because of this. And I specifically mentioned to them that boss, don’t do this, you will lose money. They prefer to stop talking to me over, you know, investing into that MLM company.

And when they got, you know, the, you know, heavy losses, and then they came back to me, I said, boss, now I cannot do anything. It’s a learning that, okay, even if you take it as a learning, it costed you a lot. But you have to do it, you know, with a pinch of salt, you cannot do anything.

You cannot escape from that. Yeah. So maybe better is Yeah, like they would rather that, you know, the focus on the quick buck part, then take some good advice.

And, you know, sort of make sure that their hands don’t get burnt. Yeah, even if, you know, sometimes what happens, I tell you my story, like, right now I’m managing funds of my clients. Okay.

What happens is that sometimes I interact with some investors, they say, okay, tell us how much returns will you give us? I clearly say that I cannot promise you the returns, the one who would promise you returns in the market is definitely questionable. So I cannot promise the returns because I cannot predict the markets. I don’t know, like how the markets will react.

All I can say is that I can try that whatever best returns can come, we will simply, you know, exchange the profits. That’s all right, we will settle based on the profits, but I cannot, you know, promise the return. But if the same person now, you know, starts comparing, okay, that person is actually giving the promising me the return with the guarantee of saving my losses, I would rather prefer them.

I say, okay, fine. They want the security, but we try to assure that boss, for us, you know, securing your principal amount is more important. Absolutely.

If you feel that, you know, that it has to you, then probably we can have a business. Otherwise, it’s okay, you can try them because I know that, you know, one or the other day, they will come back to me. I’m playing in a long term scale.

And Tarusha, believe me, I’m very happy, you know, saying this today, that my like two cousin brothers, one from my mamaji side, and one from my bhuwaji side, like both from dadka and nadka side, their businesses crumbled due to this lockdown. They jumped into this crypto bandwagon. And now the point is like their maximum family’s income is dependent on trading.

Both sides, they are doing trading. Even my mamaji has also started trading, my cousin brother is doing trading, you know, they are managing their trading on their own. The good part is that, you know, they are managing their finances, like trading has given support, financial support to my relatives in my family, right? That means a lot that at least, you know, if people surrounding me, because I always guided them in the right manner was, don’t do this, instead do this, right? It’s better to go in this direction.

Obviously, they, you know, in starting, you know, because when they were trying to experiment, according to their own way, they experienced some losses, but then they learned, and then they adopted, okay, if we go the other way, which they don’t know, they may, you know, get burned away. So they rather, you know, believed me, and I am very happy today that, you know, at least they are, you know, doing good financially, both sides. But if they could not have this crypto thing in their hands, I think, or if they could have, you know, interacted with some other person who could have, you know, misguided them, they could have burned themselves financially further.

And, you know, there could not have been a choice of earning through crypto today. So I believe we as a society has a responsibility. And where you said, you know, there is a lack of knowledge, we have to create a lot of bridges, a lot of ways where maximum people can, you know, acquire this knowledge, which we are able to, you know, share among our family relatives, so that even if we are able to educate our family relatives, if this starts happening, like we pledge to at least educate 10 people from our connections, even relatives or friends, I think we can easily transfer the knowledge to every possible person on earth.

That’s not difficult in today’s time. Yeah, absolutely. I think yes, that is the onus kind of falls on us people who are already there in the market, who are in there in this particular space to actually make sure that the right kind of information is going through.

And I think that is a great idea that you know, you should like try and aim to educate at least 10 people in your circle, because that will again create like a ripple effect. And that kind of that is how mass adoption takes place, right? Because it’s not through this reputation building, it’s through basically through word of mouth, people end up, you know, kind of understanding and taking the right steps forward. But you know, what I find, again, very funny is that, you know, even equity market, and if you’re investing in the stocks, or, say, you know, mutual funds, they come with a disclaimer, right? That, you know, you can lose your money, and, you know, kind of do your own research.

Somehow, same principles, people tend to forget when they are sort of investing in crypto. Recently, I think co founder of Zerotha only, I think, or somebody who works there, had tweeted about how, you know, what exactly would happen if Bitcoin is used to buy nuclear warheads? Okay. And my response to that was that, you know, it’s already happening, like cash is being used to finance these, you know, faceless transactions, at least with crypto, it’s synonymous, right? And it’s with cash, it’s completely anonymous.

But then again, you know, people are not looking at it in the correct way. Yes, that’s a big problem. You know, I also have this similar problem among most of these, I would say, educated class who are leading the startup front, or, you know, in India right now, most of these people who are either, you know, at government level positions, or, you know, who are, I mean, the people who have achieved financially something, they don’t consider crypto as some potential opportunity, and they would rather say, okay, blockchain is good, but crypto is not good.

They always, you know, try to correlate crypto, you know, use of the crypto into illegal transactions or illegal means. But I think they are kind of blinded by the fact that, you know, still, even today, most of the transaction or the money flow is not through bank accounts, it is through cash, right? It is a harsh reality. If we talk about the biggest money launderers, they are not the people like us.

The biggest money launderers are the banks themselves. Because they have the power to print money as much as they can. We don’t know how much, you know, bad loans they have provided, to whom favorite people they have provided, right? So I think they fail to understand this.

All they are, you know, blinded by the success of their own startups, like that, okay, they know everything. No, they don’t know everything. Everybody’s expert in their own field.

If they have to give, you know, some kind of opinion about crypto world, then I think they should at least, you know, converse with people involved in crypto for at least four to five years, because the one who has experienced the complete cycle of crypto is the right person who can, you know, give them the right narrative about crypto. The person who has entered into crypto just last year, last two years, they even don’t understand crypto completely, in my view. One has to complete four year cycle of crypto to, you know, to validate, okay, how vast knowledge he has.

So people who are not from crypto background, when they try to give their expert narratives on platforms like Twitter, it eventually, you know, misguide or distract the innocent people that okay, crypto is still bad, it is still being misused. And I think media tends to follow these people because they have some reputation in the market and media just buys their reputation only, but they don’t understand, okay, people who are working in crypto for last maybe four or five years, they have much better understanding about the whole ecosystem. Right.

In India, people tend to make others happy, especially even the corporates also. They kind of fear from the negative impact of their own business if they support some revolutionary thing. Maybe, you know, this, like, let’s say if some platforms like Paytm or Mobicwik, or, you know, they may have the RBA licenses, if they come and support crypto, they may get, you know, impacted in that way.

In that sense. So I think Kunal has taken a very good stand on here. He’s at least embracing crypto.

He’s at least has started investing in crypto projects, the founder of CRED, or ex-founder of free charge wallet. So I think, you know, other key founders or other key entrepreneurs from India should come forward. And I believe, I think we as an are part of SLB, right, we know since SLB days to each other, we have a lot of credible people sitting in SLB community as well.

So how we can actually play a key role in bringing those people forward for at least one on one conversation, or at least you know, to have some public discussion where maybe some kind of debate happens, right? Where, you know, we try to meet with those people and try to convince them at least to start speaking positive about crypto. We don’t want them to invest in crypto outright. We at least want them to start considering crypto as a good opportunity and start speaking positive about crypto through their Twitter platforms.

Like, you know, I think the Western countries are pushing like Elon Musk is there now, MicroStrategy is there, you must have seen how, like first MicroStrategy got invested into Bitcoin. It did not sit there only. Michael Saylor is actually pushing very hard on Twitter every day.

And Michael Saylor played his part to ask Elon Musk to consider putting some balance sheet on Bitcoin. And Elon Musk did that. I don’t know if that happened to Michael Saylor or not.

But the point is that it happened after Michael Saylor pointed that out. The good part is this. There must be some person who must have shifted or must have changed the narrative of Michael Saylor himself because few years back, he was against Bitcoin.

He called it Ponzi. PayPal was calling Bitcoin Ponzi. PayPal shifted their narrative, right? So if these guys are changing their views about crypto, I think it becomes our responsibility sitting in India that if we know any of such founders in our society or in our community, why not, you know, start interacting with them or maybe, you know, conduct such events where we bring these founder friends and, you know, try to debate with them or maybe, you know, convince with them with the facts that we have about crypto so that, you know, they at least get convinced about the positive crypto narrative.

If these people take a stand, the government is never going to ban it, even if they are thinking to ban it. Because these people have the power of the money in their accounts. Yeah.

And that’s essentially how policies are made. So unfortunately, unfortunately, yeah, that is how it works. Okay.

So we are running a little over time. So I’ll jump on to my, you know, last question that I kind of ask everybody who comes on the show. If somebody is, you know, looking from the outside, right, and they are still intimidated by this entire blockchain crypto business, what would be your suggestions to, you know, for them so that they can start living on blockchain? My suggestion is very simple.

When I came into Bitcoin world, I got to know about Bitcoin, it did not take me more than two days to invest in Bitcoin. Okay, I whatever savings I had, I simply put into Bitcoin. I’m not asking anyone to do the same.

What I’m saying is, anyone who gets introduced about crypto or blockchain, if they really want to learn about crypto or blockchain, the best way is to get invested into it in some manner. Maybe, you know, I think 5 or 10,000 rupees is anyone can afford to lose, right? We all invest a lot on fancy mobile phones, or maybe you know, the fancy clothes or whatever, you know, liabilities we wish to spend on, I would say at least they can have this much of heart to put 5 or 10,000 rupees into crypto, I think best one is to Bitcoin or Ethereum, right? That is the best way to start with. So once they do that, then you know, start understanding about how they can use this crypto, not how the crypto is going to transform their lives.

Just try to understand how it can be used, maybe, you know, setting up a wallet, like trading off the crypto, I think I can trade Bitcoin with USDT or what is USDT, the very basic, basic things, right? If they start learning about these things, they start learning about how to use this crypto. I think this is the best way that they can get interacted. The problem arises when, you know, they are interested in crypto and blockchain, but they don’t invest themselves up.

Because they always get feared from the speculation part, I will lose money. Why are you bothering about losing money until you get stepped into it? First step in there, you know, experience yourself whether you’re losing or gaining. Yeah, absolutely.

I think that kind of, you know, this losing money bit, as I said, this narrative, there are disclaimers with mutual funds and equity market as well, right? That you can lose your money, and yet people invest in them, right? Banks have absolutely, they have such, you know, small, the quantum of insurance with banks is so small, it has just increased now to like 5 lakh, but it was just 1 lakh, right earlier. So the thing is that people are either not aware of these things, or they conveniently ignore these bits, because, you know, they don’t know a better system. And the thing is that there is a better system in place.

There is, you know, newer technology, which is making things better. The only thing that you need to do is not be intimidated by it. And you know, it’s not just for nerds and for geeks and people who quote, it’s about people who want freedom, ultimately.

Absolutely. Yes, yes. You know, there are two reasons for that.

Number one is that, you know, people are kind of taking it for granted that, you know, okay, even if the 5 lakhs insurance is there, but you know, it is too big system to get failed easily. So they say, okay, this is practically not possible. This is like the conspiracy that you’re talking about, and this will fail.

No, this cannot happen. Because then, you know, everybody will be on road, we know that everybody will be on road, but you know, what if this happens? We are just saying that what if this happens, you should be ready with that. But if that’s why people buy insurances also, and consider maybe, you know, if you have 100 rupees in your portfolio, I mean, entire wealth, if you have 100%, maybe at least 5% of that wealth, you can, you know, insure with the crypto.

What’s wrong in that? No, nothing wrong, right? Maybe, or maybe, you know, who has a lot of money in their portfolio, maybe they can go for 1% instead of 5%, right? So that is one way to do that. Second, I feel that, you know, I still feel like I have interacted with a lot of software developers also, like India has a good population of software developers. What I feel is that developers either experienced or inexperienced, like I have interacted with the developers who are working in the US, right? People are still, you know, not understanding the economic side of the crypto, they are considering it as a ledger, only ledger.

I mean, come on, yeah, it’s not just a ledger. I mean, that’s one side of the crypto or blockchain narrative, right? So you have to understand different subjects, then only you will be able to understand crypto. Maybe then consider crypto as an opportunity to learn about different subjects.

Right? So if these software developers are taught the right narrative about crypto, two good things will happen to society. Number one, they will be able to convince their families about the crypto narrative, which will eventually lead to market option. Secondly, they will also come forward to, you know, develop something better for the society.

You know, if they understand how these token models work, how, you know, these like different blockchains can help figure out a decent or maybe decentralizing the whole centralized system, how the systems are broken, how they can be, you know, repaired, or maybe redesigned with this blockchain narrative. So they can contribute as a society into this. So I think we should be targeting the software developers first, because they will, you know, act as double edged sword, where they will not just contribute into the ecosystem by developing new projects, but also by, you know, convincing their forefathers and families and relatives to understand crypto in the right manner.

This will definitely lead to the mass adoption. Yeah, absolutely. No.

So those are really good suggestions. And I think, you know, more power to you that you do your way you think it has immense clarity. And I think that more people need to obviously be, you know, starting to question what they believe already, and their beliefs need to be questioned.

So they can become a little more aware about the changing paradigm. So you know, it has been an absolutely lovely conversation. And you know, we’ve been friends for a long time.

So I think that is why he kind of overdid with the time as well. But any last thoughts? Maybe investing in crypto, they should be, you know, knowing the difference between trading and investing, and they should be doing which, at what time they should be, you know, booking their profits, and which part of the investment is there for next five to 10 years. And even if you are considering to, you know, keep your investments for five to 10 years in crypto, then you must understand that project 100% that this is going to survive for next five to 10 years.

Right. So this is my overall suggestion to everyone. So if they feel that they don’t understand crypto, that definitely, you know, they should look for the people who are there in the crypto space who have better experience than them to, you know, take their suggestions, because we are a very small community.

And I think everyone in the community is very helpful to each other. And people who are experienced enough, I think it is a good chance for them also, to start their consultancy services, so that they can guide people in the right manner. But yeah, that’s what my suggestion is.

Lovely. Thank you so much Abhinav for taking out the time to speak to me. It’s been a great chat.

Yeah, it’s great chat for myself as well. Thanks a lot for your time.

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