In a recent move that has sent shockwaves and unease among its citizens, the government of India announced the demonetization of it’s 500 and 1000 rupee notes. These bills, worth of $7 and $14 respectively, represent 86% of the circulating fiat. This in a country where 87% of transactions are in cash and one-third of all ATMs are broken.
As these cash supplies dry up, digital currencies are increasingly being seen as a viable option for Indian workers to address their personal finance needs. Now, two companies are joining forces to foster the use of bitcoin to further such aims.
In a hopeful development, Unocoin, a Bangalore-based exchange recently announced a partnership with Silicon Valley startup Bitwage for the purpose of improving international wage distribution. Through this collaborative effort, BitWage and Unocoin will capitalize off of the demand for bitcoin, utilizing blockchain network to significantly increase take-home pay for thousands of foreign workers based in India.
Started in 2013, Unocoin is a Bangalore-based technology startup and is India’s first entrant into the Bitcoin industry. The company operates India’s largest BTC-INR trading platform which enables Indians to buy, sell, store, use and accept bitcoin. Every month, Unocoin processes transactions worth more than INR 200M for its 100,000+ customers. In just three years since inception, the company has drawn more than 30 top investors from five countries. Unocoin is responsible for industry leading innovations such as the Bitcoin Systematic Investment Plan (SIP), Bitcoin Point of Sale (POS) App and Bitcoin Over-The-Counter trading (OTC).
Comments Sunil Aggarwal, editor and chief and director at Theory Frames Knowledge Networks LTD in Ludhiana, India: “This is a really significant development in the Indian Bitcoin ecosystem as Unicoin and Bitwage together can create a pretty live system of work-rewards across the entire spectrum of industries. This would help Unocoin in creating a true middle class in Bitcoin society as bitcoin has a long tail with a small top. This is a true manifestation of what Unocoin is destined to do. They are true candidates for becoming our first smart bank (of course, a branchless one). In a changing ecosystem of global banking, this is a great initiative. Unocoin is not just a bitcoin exchange anymore; it is transforming into a complete payments player.”
Bitwage, named by Medici Top-21 as one of the leading blockchain companies in 2016, offers an efficient solution for international trade processing needs, cutting transaction costs and time with blockchain technology. Bitwage has conducted $12 million in transactions to date, with over 8,000 users benefiting from their service. Workers receive payrolls and wage payments from companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, GE, Comcast, Upwork, Toptal, Freelancer, the US Navy, and The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization.
Powered by Unocoin’s recently launched API, the Bitwage platform is accessible on all web, iOS, and Android applications. This working relationship provides millions of workers in India a means of mitigating the effect of India’s current economic crisis.
With this integration, Bitwage is able to further expand its market presence in India, the world’s second most populous nation. Contractors, employees, and businesses alike need only sign up on Bitwage; once they select INR as their currency, an Unocoin account is automatically generated. With the service, Indian employees will be able to receive their wages in INR from companies based in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom, typically at far better rates than competitive services. Already, companies like Uber, Facebook, Google, and Airbnb send money to their employees through Bitwage.
As Bitwage uses bitcoin as a transfer mechanism, Indians can now receive payments from the United States, Europe, and the UK at better rates than ever. For instance, an employee receiving $1,000 USD sent to India could receive 70250.00 INR with Bitwage, far more than an estimated 64481.60 INR through Paypal or approximately 65660.00 INR via Citibank India.
Says Sunny Ray, co-founder and president of Unocoin stated, “Our partnership with Bitwage could not have come at a better time for the people of India. We are excited to work hand in hand with a Bitwage, a company equally as committed to transforming and improving the lives of workers in India. The demand for Bitcoin in India is tremendous. Together with Unocoin, Bitwage is giving foreign employees in India an unprecedented arbitrage opportunity, so they can take home far more money from the same paycheck than ever before.”
Added Ray, “I grew up in Canada watching my father send money to our family in India. Now along with my co-founders, we created Unocoin to solve the problem of expensive fees and drawn out transaction times; this is just one way that digital currency can dramatically help humanity.”
Jonathan Chester, co-founder and president of Bitwage said, “The partnership with Unocoin was an undeniable opportunity because of the profound impact it will have on the Indian community. The value of the Unocoin and Bitwage partnership goes beyond providing a faster, cheaper, and more reliable solution for international wage processing needs – It is helping revive the Indian economy.”
“With the recent economic crisis in India, more and more people are turning towards Bitcoin. Unocoin is the bridge connecting the Indian community to the incredible benefits Bitcoin and blockchain technology has to offer. Our partnership with Bitwage furthers our mission to bring Bitcoin to the masses,” concludes Ray.