Bit by bit, Kerala’s tech companies switch to cryptocurrency

Mention the innovative cryptocurrency Bitcoin and many startups and IT companies in Kerala will say they have been using it as their most-favoured payment option for a year or more. 

Published: 31st December 2017 09:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2017 09:35 AM   |  A+A-

Bitcoins are seen in this illustration picture. (Photo | Reuters)

KOZHIKODE: Mention the innovative cryptocurrency Bitcoin and many startups and IT companies in Kerala will say they have been using it as their most-favoured payment option for a year or more.

The companies say Bitcoin helps them receive funds from clients within minutes compared to conventional banking channels, which may take three-four weeks. Though the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has warned that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are risky, IT firms, even startups, are ready to take it as their overseas clients are more into Bitcoin for payments.

On December 24, the RBI had stated “payments by virtual currencies, such as Bitcoins, take place on a peer-to-peer basis without an authorised central agency that regulates such payments. It has not given any licence/authorisation to any entity/company to operate such schemes or deal with Bitcoin or any virtual currency. Any user, holder, investor, trader dealing with virtual currencies will be doing so at their own risk.” 

Kappian Inc CEO Arun Haridas said his firm based at UL CyberPark in Kozhikode district has been accepting Bitcoin since 2016. “Nearly three to four per cent of our revenue receipts in the last one year are in Bitcoins. More clients want to make payments in Bitcoin and it’s expected to grow in future,” he said.

“We had a big project with an overseas client. When it tried to remit through conventional banking channels, it failed due to technical reasons. As it led to a delay in funds transfer, we opened a Bitcoin wallet and received the payment immediately,” he said, adding, “Our client base is mainly in USA and Canada, and they prefer payments through Bitcoin. Many non-resident Keralites too opt for it.”  

“Overseas clients mostly ask companies to accept remittance through Bitcoin,” said Abdul Hasib, blockchain developer of Piyars Technologies, a software development startup at the UL CyberPark incubation centre. Hasib said his company had received nearly `4 lakh through three Bitcoin transactions in the past three months. “The companies convert the received Bitcoins in their wallets to Indian rupees and US dollars through Bitcoin exchanges,” he said. 

A senior officer of the State Bank of India said Bitcoin was neither legally approved nor banned in the country. “The RBI is not entertaining cryptocurrency transactions. However, when companies transfer their money to bank account after exchanging Bitcoins into Indian currency, the banks are not currently verifying the source of revenue,” he said.“Cryptocurrencies are the future. We can’t stay away from it, we have to take the risk,” Hasib said.

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