Meet Nischal Shetty: Founder & CEO of WazirX

  • Nischal Shetty, a software developer turned entrepreneur, founded WazirX at age 32.
  • In the span of three years, WazirX has grown to be India’s biggest crypto exchange.
  • Shetty was instrumental in shaping the crypto landscape in India.

I tried so hard and got so far..

Nischal Shetty, a software developer turned entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of India’s biggest crypto exchange, WazirX. Shetty has no shortage of accomplishments and has been recognized in Forbes’ 30 under 30. After graduating with a degree in computer science in 2007, Shetty began his career working as a software developer for a number of smaller firms. He quickly realized that the entrepreneurial path suited him better and shortly after would embark on his first venture.

After a two year stint in corporate life, Shetty set out to launch Crowdfire, an artificial intelligence driven marketing assistant. Crowdfire enables individuals to manage all their social media accounts and discover content from one place instead of resorting to multiple platforms. Crowdfire quickly became successful and touts ~20 million users across the globe today. With its success also came hardships - social media platforms became increasingly restrictive, thus forcing his team to dial back several features on the platform. As a result, it became more difficult to attract the developer community and grow the platform. This experience sowed the seeds to what would emerge as India's biggest crypto exchange.

He once said in an interview, that ‘anger against the big tech giants led me to cryptocurrency.’ Who knew that one of the ways to channel your anger could lead to the development of a tech unicorn.

I put my trust in you..

Shetty once bought something off eBay and received a fake product. This incident diminished his trust in the internet and convinced him that the online platform was full of scammers. However, this notion did not remain with the technology enthusiast for long, as he started discovering new opportunities in the market. It was 2010 when he first tried mining bitcoin, but he did not take it seriously and ended up selling the hardware. Seven years later, cryptocurrencies began gaining steam again and, this time, he decided to invest a little capital into digital assets. When looking for platforms to trade on, however, he realized that there was a large disparity between the user experience of Indian and global exchanges.

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After further research on the Indian crypto market, he understood that there were many others like him, who were interested in investing in digital assets, but could not, because the available platforms were so unreliable. He was disappointed that the exchanges in India provided a subpar experience for traders. That is when he decided that he had to bring a solution to the table, that would solve his problem and that of thousands of other Indians.

Shetty, along with WazirX co-founders, Siddharth Menon and Sameer Mhatre, launched their exchange and announced their very own tokens called WRX. The incentive behind WRX was that users, who signed up early, would receive tokens that could be used to trade digital currencies with a 50% reduction in trading fees. To their surprise, they received over 40,000 sign-ups in just the first week. This strengthened the trio’s belief in the high demand for cryptocurrency services in India. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Pushed as far as I can go

Shetty’s involvement in crypto began in 2017. His interest only grew when he realized the inefficiencies in the market. Back then, the emerging digital-assets space in India was yet to experience the enthusiasm it received in other nations. The lack of proper, reliable infrastructure to trade crypto did not compel Indians to dive into this asset. Trust was nearly non-existent. The now 35-year-old, quickly realized this opportunity and set out to build an exchange that users in India could trust. Right from the get-go, Shetty put himself out as the face of the platform.

In March 2018, Nischal Shetty, along with co-founders Siddharth Menon and Samir Mhatre, launched WazirX. To their surprise, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) imposed a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies just 3 weeks after the launch. The new regulation prohibited banks from engaging in crypto-related transactions. The team was undettered and was quick to capitalize on this new development. While the new regulation led to several larger exchanges closing down, Shetty and his team quickly moved to a different model to circumvent this rule. WazirX routed transactions through an escrow account, where the crypto to fiat exchange would take place, instead of at the bank. This strategy paid off and coincided with the beginning of the most recent crypto craze. WazirX soon gained a strong foothold in the industry and grew rapidly.

Shetty once said in an interview that “the ban was a problem for exchanges that were already established and large’. He continued that, ‘since we were just three weeks old, we were already at zero levels, and we knew that we could not go lower than that. So, the ban did not bother us much’. Two years later, the RBI reversed its decision, leading WazirX on an even more steep growth trajectory. It is now the largest crypto exchange in India boasting about 2 million users.

In November 2019, global crypto powerhouse, Binance, acquired WazirX. This strategic move provided WazirX, not only with the much needed capital to pursue their growth strategies, but also lent them the global expertise they lacked in India. Today WazirX claims to have over 7 million registered users and boasts over $6bn per month in trading volume.

“We are where we are because of our users,” tweeted Shetty as a reply to one of his early WazirX users, who congratulated him on the acquisition and said ‘congrats but don’t forget your early WazirXians’. The founder clearly still sticks to his principle of making WazirX a continually improving user experience for crypto investors.

All I know..Crypto is a valuable thing

In a 2020 interview discussing how the country was changing its narrative on cryptocurrencies, Shetty mentioned that ‘the fact that the people and authorities of the country are talking about the digital currency is enough to move forward with the emerging state of cryptocurrencies in India.’ He also focused on the fact that other nations, such as Germany and China, have constantly been working on bettering crypto technology in their respective nations. Hence, it only made sense to him that, at some point in time, India would lend the same level of attention to the space to avoid being left behind.

His sheer determination to propel the adoption of digital assets forward has made it possible for residents in India to trade cryptocurrencies on a platform as secure and reliable as WazirX. The interview continued with Shetty answering more questions about the sustenance and stability of digital assets. He mentioned that ‘in my opinion, every product online will eventually have cryptocurrency since every single product has a potential to become an economy of its own.’ He seems confident about crypto adoption and thinks that the several existing cryptos will only drive up the market further.

Shetty still remains very active on social media. He spends his time advocating and educating the Indian crypto community. With over 50,000 followers on Twitter, this blockchain influencer sure has a voice.

Conclusion
Nischal Shetty’s perseverance and confidence has certainly played a pivotal role in changing India’s crypto landscape. His vision to build a reliable crypto exchange for Indians and shepherd the development of the platform through a relatively short, but volatile period, has been impressive. Moreover, the recent acquisition by Binance, positions WazirX as a leading crypto platform in the country, thus enabling more Indians to begin their remarkable journey into the digital assets space.

Nothing in this article constitutes professional and/or financial advice. The content is provided exclusively for informational and/or educational purposes. Nothing is to be construed as an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell any type of asset. Seek independent professional advice in regards to financial, tax, legal and other matters.

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