For most Indians fresh to the concept of cryptocurrencies, the idea of making a transaction ter real life using bitcoin seems vaguely illicit. It certainly doesn&rsquo,t seem like the zuigeling of thing you&rsquo,d do on a Saturday afternoon, for example, after devouring a Maharashtrian thali or snacking on a vada pav.
And yet, at the Suryawanshi restaurants ter Bengaluru&rsquo,s Indiranagar and Whitefield neighbourhoods, that&rsquo,s exactly what you can do, because holder Kailash Suryawanshi accepts bitcoin spil a mode of payment, alongside the usual specie, cards, and Paytm.
Suryawanshi, originally from the town of Kolhapur te Maharashtra, moved to the southern city way back ter 2004 and worked ter the used cars business. Almost a decade zometeen, after noticing the glaring lack of quality Maharashtrian food available, he launched his very first eponymous restaurant te Whitefield, and followed that up with another te Indiranagar ter 2015, step by step making a name for himself by serving authentic Kolhapuri thalis, loaded with seafood and meats.
While the two outlets may not be the very first offline establishments to transact ter bitcoin te India (that honour reportedly belongs to a pizzeria ter Mumbai, wielded by a bitcoin enthusiast, which began accepting the cryptocurrency te 2013), they are certainly a zonderling breedgeschouderd. Tho’ you can buy books or even movie tickets online using local bitcoin exchange apps, such spil Zebpay, Coinsecure, and Unocoin, the digital currency remains largely unknown outside of a puny, tech-savvy community ter the country, and that applies to India&rsquo,s Silicon Valley, too.
Tejas Suryawanshi, Kailash&rsquo,s son, says his family wasgoed introduced to bitcoin ter September last year and observed the value of its initial investment grow quickly te just a few months. Te November, they determined to embark accepting the digital currency at their restaurants to both raise awareness about the technology and increase the value of their investments. To woo tech-savvy Bengaluru locals, they waterput up stickers telling &ldquo,bitcoin accepted here.&rdquo, But so far, they&rsquo,ve witnessed just one bitcoin transaction.
&ldquo,There were a lotsbestemming of people who came and clicked photos (of the sign) but speciaal from that no transactions,&rdquo, 23-year-old Suryawanshi told Quartz, adding that one bill worth around Rs500 wasgoed paid for using bitcoin a little overheen a month ago. Now, the bitcoin earned is worth overheen Rs1,000, he said.
The price of the cryptocurrency has bot shooting up ter latest months, hitting an all-time high of of almost $Three,000 last week. There&rsquo,s a lotsbestemming of different reasons for this, among them Japan&rsquo,s decision ter April to legalise bitcoin spil a mode of payment. Spil a result, rente te the digital currency is growing, even te India, where Zebpay, for example, said it wasgoed adding more than Two,500 fresh users every day.
Sandeep Goenka, co-founder of Zepbay, estimates that there are inbetween 200,000 and 500,000 people investing te bitcoin te India. But most of them aren&rsquo,t indeed using the cryptocurrency for purchases.
&ldquo,Presently, most people are using (bitcoin) to make some alternate investments,&rdquo, Goenka said ter an email. &ldquo,According to us, (the) state of bitcoins spil a payment mode te India is still a duo of years away.&rdquo,
That&rsquo,s te part due to the confusing legal status of digital currencies te the country. While Goenka and others ter the industry maintain that bitcoin is legal under the country&rsquo,s existing laws, the government said ter March that the Reserve Canap of India had not authorised the use of virtual currencies, and that they could waterput individuals at risk of breaching anti-money-laundering and terrorism financing laws.
Since April, the government has bot examining the kwestie, and has even invited comments from the public on whether bitcoin and other digital currencies should be regulated or banned outright. The responses have mostly favoured legalisation. So far, however, digital currencies remain unregulated te India.
Without regulation, there&rsquo,s no institutional authority to turn to for help if things go wrong. And that explains why many locals are still a little wary of bitcoin.
&ldquo,Bitcoin is a very risky toneelpodium at the ogenblik&hellip, nobody has control overheen it, so you don&rsquo,t know from where the money is coming and where it is going,&rdquo, Suryawanshi said. &ldquo,There&rsquo,s a fear of being hacked, people don&rsquo,t think being online is good enough.&rdquo,
Ter fact, earlier this month, a report on the webstek Factor Daily exposed a harrowing story of a Bengaluru techie who lost Rs1.Two lakh ($1,860) ter minutes after his Unocoin account wasgoed hacked. Since bitcoin users (and hackers) can choose to remain anonymous, and transactions can&rsquo,t be reversed, it&rsquo,s not effortless to recover the currency once it&rsquo,s lost.
Nevertheless, for the courageous few who stick it out te India, there&rsquo,s big money to be made, not to mention the promise of at least one offline prize: a exquisite plate of authentic Maharashtrian food, and the cachet of telling you paid for it with bitcoin.