Although it ranks as one of the highest adoption of cryptocurrency among emerging markets, most of the Indian market is yet to accept nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Anshul Rustagi, founder and CEO of Totality Corporation, said social and cultural barriers as well as anti-crypto laws are preventing mass adoption of NFTs – especially in some of the country’s lower-tier cities.
India has a population of 1.38 billion and is the second most populous country after China. Last month, the United Nations predicted the country would surpass its competitors by 2023.
However, Rustagi explained that crypto trading and NFT collection are seen as speculative investments – a concept that is frowned upon in Indian culture and placed in the same boat as gambling.
“India has a very love-hate relationship with speculation. So all of Asia including India like speculation. But morally, we always like to say bad things about it,” he said.
Even his time as a London hedge fund manager was viewed by his mother as “basically gambling with other people’s money,” Rustagi says.
“With NFTs, the only way to make money was speculation. […] We have not yet embraced digital goods as a society.
Research has shown that most NFTs are bought for their speculative nature, with some collections being seen as “symbols” of wealth and status, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, which houses a long list of celebrities. And heavy hitters in crypto as hodlers.
However, Rustagi says that this concept has not taken flight in India despite the strong emphasis on “social status” in Indian society.
Social status issue in India Marriage is the biggest expense in India. On average, 34 percent of your lifetime expenses are for your children’s marriages. And the thing is that it is such a social event, you want to show the best to the world. So social status is important.”
Rustagi says the speculative nature of NFTs prevents it from reaching the same level of social “symbolism” as a luxury car or Rolex watch, but note:
“So I think the time will come in India when NFTs will be a great symbol. I don’t think it is yet, but it will come.”
In the year In late 2021, Totality Corporation launched its first “Lakshmi NFT” – inspired by the Goddess of Wealth and Wealth. Rustagi said this is the biggest NFT sale in India “so far”, bringing in a total of $561,000 from a collection of 5,555 NFTs.
Rustagi said the crash was successful, citing rewards paid in USD Coin (USDC) as an incentive to hold NFTs, making it a “guaranteed return” rather than a “speculation.”
Related: The Indian government’s ‘blockchain not crypto’ stance highlights the lack of awareness
Overall, however, Rustagi believes that crypto adoption in India will remain a challenge as long as there is regulatory uncertainty.
The Indian government has maintained a strong anti-crypto stance since 2013. At the beginning of this year, the government implemented two crypto tax laws which saw the intention and business volumes and many crypto unicorns left the country.
“The government in India definitely doesn’t want cryptocurrency anymore. […] The government is saying we don’t like blockchain and we don’t like cryptocurrency. But it’s funny.”