India’s first crypto startups, Unocoin, is taking a shot at normalizing crypto usage in India, beyond trading. The company today announced a new feature on its app, which will allow users to top-up their FASTag accounts using cryptocurrencies. FASTag is an electronic toll collection system launched by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). It became mandatory for all vehicles from January this year.
Unocoin’s system will only allow Bitcoin payments for topping up FASTag accounts at the moment. The company said that users will be able to make minimum spends of Rs. 100 and maximum of Rs. 10,000. Bitcoin bought on the platform and deposited through other private wallets can be used for purchases.
The company will essentially act as the middle-man between crypto users and those whom they are paying. While users will be paying via crypto, Unocoin will convert that money into INR and make the equivalent payment. Of course, the amount of Bitcoin required for a particular payment will depend on the price of the token at that time.
Unocoin’s announcement comes at a time when crypto adoption has been growing in India. An August 2021 report from research firm, Finder, noted that nearly one-third of surveyed Indians already owned cryptocurrency. India was ranked third in terms of global crypto adoption, ahead of countries like the United States and United Kingdom, and behind Vietnam and Indonesia.
However, like most other countries, India doesn’t have many mechanisms for buying real-world items using crypto either. Top exchanges in India, like WazirX, have reported billions in monthly trading volumes, but few have ever tried to work Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies into the regular financial ecosystem. Zebpay, which is now a pure crypto exchange, had started off in 2015 with Flipkart vouchers, which users could buy using crypto.
According to Sathvik Vishwanath, founder of Unocoin, the platform currently has over 1.38 million crypto users. The platform had also partnered with 90 different brands, including pizza chain Domino’s, coffee chain Cafe Coffee Day, and ice-cream chain Baskin Robbins, offering users the ability to buy gift cards for these brands using cryptocurrency.