KOCHI: Pune-based 'finfluencer' Rachana Ranade who flew down to Kochi as a panelist for a national-level stock trading competition on Monday, was in for a big surprise when she learnt that nearly half of the large twentysomething audience are already investing in cryptos.
"I'm surprised and maddened at the same time," says the 35-year-old.
"Maddened because half of those who are trading/investing in cryptos are doing it without knowing the nature of the animal."
"The average age of cryto-investors globally is 24. And the first-ever investment they have done in their life is in crypto. It's not in the stock market, it's not in FDs, it's not in mutual funds. It's in crypto," says Ranade, who has 3.22 million subscribers on YouTube where she uploads videos on how to analyse stocks and invest in the market.
Of late, she has also started to allocate a minuscule portion of her portfolio in cryptos too. "I have about one percent of my investments in cryptos and going forward not more than 5% in cryptos. I don't want to lose my sleep over it," she laughs.
"Like in stock market, one should have good knowledge about crypto before investing there, just like in stock markets, every crypto has a use case. You have to understand why it was made. Then it makes good sense to invest in that. I feel crypto is here to stay," Ranade reckons.
She says she generally goes ahead with crypto which has some utility, and ETH is one such crypto. "ETHs a token for the platform, which is Ethereum. Ethereum is something on which you can build apps, they call it d-apps or decentralised apps. The crypto people call it web 3.0. Something which is going to happen in the future. Today you can imagine if Gmail shuts down half of us will go crazy. I can't access my mail. And it's possible because it's a centralised thing. You can imagine an email where no one controls it. That's a decentralised app. It can be built on the Etherium platform. Even NFTs are on the Ethereum platform," she explains.
So what's her opinion on the government's move to ban crypto-currency in the country?
"I feel it should not be banned. But it should be regulated," Ranade says pointing out that if the stock market was banned after the 1992 Harshad Mehta scam "we would not have seen what we are seeing today". Similarly, if the government bans crypto, the country might miss out on what's coming in the next 10 or 15 years.
What cryptocurrencies need is a regulator, Ranade, who was here for the programme organised by MaverixPro, a Kozhikode-based financial education firm, said. The presence of a regulatory body provide the assurance that there would be someone to complain if an exchange goes bust or similar such events.
"I feel regulation is a must, without that it should not be allowed to a big extent," Ranade says. Simultaneously, a big challenge is how to regulate this space, and it's very tricky. Crypto is something that is evolving. "Every day, something new is coming. How are you going to regulate that? You have to make amendments to every session of the parliament," she says. Globally it is regulated in the US. In China, people say it's banned.
She warns that the IT geeks may leave the country if we ban cryptos completely. Even a country like China has not banned cryptos, it has only banned mining, not trading, As of now, China has banned mining. Not trading, Ranade, a new-age financial influencer, says.
She reckons the major concern for the government is how the cryptos are going to be exchanged. To whom it is going and from whom it is coming. There could be fears of terror funding through cryptos, Ranade says.
Many people believe that private cryptos are banned in India. "But no one is talking about the definition of cryptocurrency. Private cryptocurrencies are something that can't be tracked. Like monero and zcash. The transactions of these cryptos can't be tracked. This could be the government's concern. If I'm talking like an ETH, whatever transaction we do, can be easily tracked."
However, cryptos can evolve as an alternative asset class but Ranade feels it won't until it gets the status of a currency in our country.