Investing in crypto has gone beyond millennials.
As awareness about cryptocurrency and its utility increases, the new asset class is catching the fancy of those aged over 45 despite the industry lacking a clear regulatory framework, data shared with ET by several Indian crypto exchanges showed.
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WazirX, India’s largest crypto exchange, saw a 337% increase in sign-ups by users over 45 between February and April compared to the previous three-month period.
The platform’s largest user base is aged under 30.
Increased institutional investment and acceptance of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin by companies like Paypal and Mastercard and the heightened visibility about the crypto industry in the media have contributed to the boom, senior executives of several Indian crypto exchanges said.
The youth, armed with knowledge curated from social media channels like Twitter, YouTube and Discord, are evangelising the nascent industry by educating their parents and grandparents about the technology and its future potential, they added.
For Delhi-based 19-year-old Daksh Miglani, educational material on websites like bitcoinscamhai.com and IndiaWantsCrypto.org helped change his parents’ mind.
“Older people are too attached to the traditional financial system. It is hard for them to understand the concept of decentralisation and new ideas that go above and beyond countries,” Miglani, who is a firm believer in decentralised finance and began programming when he was 13, said.
The regulatory uncertainty after a ban on cryptocurrency trading by the banking regulator in 2019 – since overturned by the Supreme Court – made his parents sceptical about investing in the asset class. However, after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a “calibrated approach” to crypto in March, Miglani’s parents came round and now he manages their investments – about 10% of their total – on WazirX.
Crypto exchange ZebPay has seen a year-on-year percentage increase of 705% in the number of investors above the age of 45 between 2020 and this year, while Tiger Global-backed CoinSwitch Kuber saw a 35% increase in its investor base for the same age group in the last two months.
Elderly rush in
Senior citizens investing in crypto is yet another emerging category.
CoinSwitch Kuber onboarded the highest number of users over 65 in April.
“The elderly, too, are becoming more and more tech-savvy and see nothing strange in allocating their savings to assets via swipes on their phones in a bid to diversify their investment bouquet,” said Ashish Singhal, CEO and founder of CoinSwitch Kuber, whose majority user base is under 27. “The interesting part is that their activity matches the young folks.”
Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple’s XRP are popular among those over 65 on CoinSwitch Kuber, Singhal added.
At least half a dozen under 20-year-olds that ET spoke to had convinced their parents and others to invest, in the process also becoming their portfolio managers and advisors.
For instance, Dheeraj Mehra, 18, a first-year computer science student in Chandigarh, launched a community where he and his friends got people to invest in crypto, mainly by showing the 3x return Mehra made on his investments.So far, the group, called Growth Investors, has persuaded eight people including Mehra’s 80-year-old uncle.
“We target old and young people who are not aware of blockchain technology and crypto,” said Mehra, who jumped on to the crypto bandwagon this year after seeing Tesla’s Elon Musk and American entrepreneur Mark Cuban promote it on Twitter.
The community follows three commandments when managing the portfolio of its eight clients: Encourage experimentation with a smaller amount, invest for the long-term and go for coins with higher future utility.
India’s oldest crypto exchange, Unocoin, has observed that senior citizens tend to concentrate in certain regions. “We see a higher percentage of them in Bangalore compared to Mumbai and Delhi,” said Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder and CEO of Unocin.
For the boomer generation that has traditionally stuck to investing in gold, real estate and fixed deposits, CoinDCX has curated a list of 14 coins based on an internal framework that meets certain standards and is compliant with local laws to protect retail investors.
“As we move towards a more digital age, citizens above 55 are also looking at options that give quicker returns,” a company spokesperson said.