By Raj Karkara
India is home to the largest youth population in the world with nearly 66% of it below the age of 35. This dynamic and energetic youth is the most tech-savvy among the entire population. Hooked to the internet more than ever, the youth is attracted to the latest technology, including crypto, which has gained popularity across the world. Today, about 27 million people in India own crypto assets while the adoption rate continues to climb.
Launched in 2009, Bitcoin was the world’s first crypto and remains the most popular across the globe even though there are about 20,000 other such crypto tokens in circulation today. India is also set to launch its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by FY23 as announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
At a time when opening a bank account requires a minimum fee and paperwork, and getting a loan is a cumbersome exercise, crypto is providing great investment opportunities to the youth who are looking to widen their investment portfolio. Decentralised Crypto has no intermediaries, unlike traditional banks. Moreover, it is enabling people with no credit history to obtain loans. Originally created as a way to digitally transfer funds, crypto today has brought exceptional returns to investors. It promises to disrupt monopolized financial systems and now everyone wants to own them.
Crypto and its properties that improve financial freedom
Crypto may not directly enhance each facet of economic freedom such as tax policies and government spending, but it can surely enhance most of the core drivers including freedom of trade, investment, and finance. Crypto investment helps in creating better economies in countries with less economic freedom.
With open networks, crypto is eliminating national border barriers, allowing everyone across the globe to transact on shared networks. Free from government control, these networks cannot hamper economic freedom. This design principle allows for more open markets.
Crypto allows everyone to acquire and grow wealth without any interference from third parties. Smart contracts shift enforcement from the courts to the blockchain. Moreover, Blockchain technologies are egalitarian in nature and are accessible to people all around the world.
Crypto provides mobility by allowing wealth to cross borders at minimal costs, allowing people to accumulate wealth and progress towards financial freedom.
Innovations in the crypto landscape are taking the world by storm. Web 3.0, Decentralised Finance (Defi), and Metaverse are some of the breakthrough innovations with great potential. Owning crypto assets can help India’s youth get a head start and be a part of this new wave of innovation.
Ten years ago, something like gaming was never seen to be a source of income. But today there are umpteen use cases of art, fitness, and gaming in the crypto world which can be a source of income for the youth. Apps related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), fitness, and gaming are being built on blockchain and the ones who are ahead of the curve will accrue a wealth of knowledge that could have tremendous benefit.
The road ahead
India has young and diverse demography which is its biggest strength. However, a lack of financial inclusion can detract the country from growth in the years to come. Financial inclusion must be a major priority for governments and organizations, especially in developing nations like India.
Virtual assets like crypto are a great financial inclusion option because they offer lower transaction costs than traditional money transfer services. They can bring financial freedom to India’s youth by giving them access to credit and other banking services, regardless of their income or social standing. With peer-to-peer networks, it will soon be possible for Indians to make cash deposits directly into their bank accounts using crypto instead of just having cash remitted—an option that currently requires another bank account and some additional paperwork.
Crypto assets have another advantage and that is that they are not bound by geography. Anyone with valid identification, a mobile phone, and an internet connection can be a part of the crypto world. There are several options such as trading, peer-to-peer lending, and staking which can empower youth to hold valuable crypto assets.
The gig economy has seen its rise in the past decade. Building alternative sources of income is a practice that is picking up lately in India and rightly so. Dependency on one income source hinders financial independence. Thus, the youth of India can accrue wealth through well-researched investing practices and a disciplined approach to becoming financially independent.
The author is COO, ZebPay