Among the several projects from India, the one that caught our attention is CoinSwitch. It aggregates the various leading exchanges and let users trade with ease. We call them “The Trivago of Crypto Exchange”. Founder Ashish Singhal shares with us his eureka moment that came about this idea.
1) Can you tell our readers about yourself?
My name is Ashish Singhal. Prior to founding CoinSwitch, I have worked at Amazon and LivSpace.com. I have won most of the major hackathons in India and also hold a patent for optimising image download. I have an engineering degree in Computer Science from NSIT, Delhi.
2) What is CoinSwitch and how did this idea come about?
CoinSwitch is a cryptocurrency exchange aggregator. We aggregate the leading exchanges like Bittrex, changelly, KuCoin, HitBTC, IDEX and some more so that users can compare the prices of their favourite coin across exchanges and buy it at best rates without having to create an account at any of these exchanges. They can use their own wallets to do this and hence they don’t have to worry about security with us. We support over 300+ coins and 45,000+ exchange pairs - the highest in the world.
The idea of CoinSwitch came about during our trading days (we are traders ourselves). We realised that there was not a standard price and we had to check on various exchanges for the lowest price and sometimes we didn’t have an account on those exchanges and we had to create account on all exchanges. This was tedious process and that is when we started building coinswitch.
3) CoinSwitch is a brilliant idea, but with all startups the beginning is always the hardest. Any challenges that you face?
The biggest challenge we faced was that of building trust. How do we get customers to trust us? The only way we could see to solve it was to keep talking to our customers. Me and my other two co-founders would take turns to stay online on the support chat 24 hours. We made sure that every single customer query was resolved immediately. We would also go to various prominent crypto discussion forums and answer relevant questions and then make an attempt to introduce our service. Once users started coming in they started writing feedbacks for us and that eventually got us more customers. Even today, with a huge customer base, we stick to our commitment of providing best exchange experience and resolving customer issues as soon as possible.
4) How did Sequoia discover you guys?
Like I mentioned before, we would go to various online forums and introduce our service. And we were discovered by Sequoia through one of these forums.
5) Which camp are you in favour of? CEX or DEX?
We do believe that the future lies in DEX and it will take over sooner or later but what many don’t realise is that, this industry would not have seen mass adoption had it not been for CEX. There are many complication involving the usage of DEX and regular users who aren’t tech savvy might shy away from this industry because of these complications. I think each has its role to play but the future certainly is DEX. Although centralised exchanges are the major drivers of crypto markets but they have this evident problem of getting hacked as we have seen in the past. Our service is very contextual in this regard as we use centralised exchanges for conversion but we don’t hold customers fund and their funds remain safe.
6) Do you foresee a convergence of equity trading markets and crypto trading? If so, in what ways?
When you look at it from the perspective of trading, there will be a convergence in the equity trading and crypto trading. I will be surprised if that doesn’t happen. I think it will be lead by equity trading platforms allowing crypto trading on the same platform and this will open up crypto markets to your normal equity trading folks. Robinhood is already doing this and the proposed Bitcoin ETF will drastically add to this.
7) Can you comment on the current state of crypto trading and blockchain adoption in India?
Crypto trading in India is still at nascent stage but its very promising. The whole industry suffers from the lack of clarity in regulation and this discourages many from getting into it. Inspite of this, we have seen many crypto exchanges come up in this space in India. The recent RBI ban prohibiting banking entities from dealing with individuals and companies in the crypto domain was a set back to the growth of this industry in India but this also resulted in companies building innovative blockchain products and making sure that every step is a step forward.
On the other hand, Blockchain is widely accepted by the government bodies in India. They believe in the potential of it but I don’t think they realise that cryptocurrency is an integral part of blockchain.
8) Any advice to those who are beginners in crypto trading?
These are the three basic advices that I think every trader should follow whether its crypto or equity:
1. Don’t put more money than you can afford to lose.
2. Knowledge is money. The more you read and understand, the more you know where to put the money.
3. Don’t put all eggs in one basket.
Also remember to never store your coins in a centralised entity. They are prone to being hacked and you might lose all your coins.
9) What is your vision for CoinSwitch and the developments plans in the future?
We at CoinSwitch are a super team of people who collectively believe in building products and services that will take crypto mainstream. Our focus has always been convenience. If you look at all of our products like our Exchange or Airdrop Tracker or even the Instant exchange that we built, they are all so very easy to use. In near future, We would focus on building products that will make it extremely easy from anyone of any age group or skill set to easily get started with cryptos.
10) If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I would want to put more hours in a day. There is so much that we want to build and so little time and hence we are always in the grind. I am actually sitting and doing this interview while I have a flight in the next 30 minutes. Sometimes its very exhaustive, but what keeps us going is the believe that we are building something that promises a better tomorrow for our users.