Investments of not less than $6.6 billion till May. Over 10,000 active jobs opened up in 2021 alone. A global ranking of 11th in the race for adopting a virtual currency. Need we say India has logged into the world of cryptocurrencies with a bang? All it needs now is the password that would make it legal tender, with a transparent regulatory framework and redressal mechanisms in place. For all the misgivings that trail this paradigm-breaking (and little-understood) leap in the history of currency, the tide seems to be turning. On September 7, El Salvador became the first country to recognise Bitcoin as legal tender—one of the most significant milestones in the 12-year journey of cryptocurrencies. A small, strife-torn Central American nation with a $27 billion GDP influencing the $3-trillion Indian economy may prima facie seem a risible thought, but there is such a thing as the butterfly effect. And indeed, we see the India chapter of that story being written—and rewritten—even if with a cautious pen.
As technological changes upend finance, crypto has gone from being a byproduct of digital disruption to a $1-trillion asset class, barging into most fund managers’ blueprint for a balanced portfolio. Even if the virtual currencies on the unregulated market behave at present like a herd of stampeding wild stallions—it’s not quite an orderly derby yet, and prospective punters pretty much end up swallowing their cigar in sheer nervousness. But, as the new normal inexorably transforms the habitually risk-shy Indian investor into a class of digitally advanced millennials, crypto is making ever-bigger strides. A sustained rally in the post-Covid world had hit a roadblock with China cracking down on virtual currencies earlier this year. But crypto turned around soon and Bitcoin, the leader of the pack, boomed into the $50,000 level.