Coinbase CEO Blames RBI for Botched India Launch

Coinbase CEO Blames RBI for Botched India Launch

Coinbase Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong squarely blamed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for employing “informal pressure” and denying the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) services that led to Coinbase halting its trading services three days after the launch on April 7.

Coinbase India Launch Experience

Speaking for the first time on the issue, Armstrong explained what led to the suspension of the company’s services in India and how it plans to stage a comeback. During the Q1 2022 earnings call, he said:

“So a few days after launching, we ended up disabling UPI because of some informal pressure from the Reserve Bank of India, which is kind of the Treasury equivalent there,” he explained in response to a question from Anil Gupta, VP, Investor Relations, Coinbase.

Coinbase, which maintains a technical hub with about 300 staff in India for over a year and is planning to hire another 1,000 staff this year alone, launched its trading services on April 7, 2022, in Bangalore in the presence of CEO Armstrong.

But within three days, the Nasdaq-listed crypto trading platform had to suspend its services for Indian investors after the instant retail payments services UPI was denied by the RBI-controlled NPCI.

The Coinbase co-founder and CEO reached India a week before the launch of its trading platform. He also informed the readers through a corporate blog on Medium that Coinbase Ventures would be meeting with startup founders to explore investment possibilities in crypto and Web3 domains.

“And India is a unique market, in the sense that the Supreme Court has ruled that they can’t ban crypto, but there are elements in the government there, including at Reserve Bank of India, who don’t seem to be as positive on it. And so they — in the press, it’s been called a “shadow ban,” basically, they’re applying soft pressure behind the scenes to try to disable some of these payments, which might be going through UPI.,” Armstrong added.

Re-Launching in India a Priority

After detailing what happened in India and how RBI’s informal pressure is a violation of the Supreme Court ruling, Armstrong said his priorities include an upcoming relaunch.

“But I think our preference is really just to work with them and focus on relaunching. I think there’s a number of path that we have to relaunch with other payment methods there. And that’s the default path going forward. So my hope is that we will be live back in India in relatively short order, along with a number of other countries, where we’re pursuing international expansion similarly,” he summed up his India experience.

Experience in Compliance and Regulation

Active in over 100 markets, the second-largest crypto exchange by volume claims to have an extensive understanding of the complications involving compliance and regulation.

Drawing on its experience, in April 2022, the company launched Coinbase Intelligence, a suite of crypto compliance tools for businesses and law enforcement agencies. These transaction screening tools provide real-time monitoring and alerts for better risk management.

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