Despite being one of the most avid cryptocurrency users among emerging markets, India is still a large market that has yet to adopt nonfungible tokens.
Anshul Rustaggi, CEO of Totality Corp, explained to Asian trade that NFTs are being held back by cultural and social barriers as well as anticrypto regulations. This is especially true in lower-tier cities.
India is home to 1.38 billion people. It is second in world population, just behind China. The United Nations predicted that India would surpass its rival sometime in 2023.
Rustaggi said that NFT collection and crypto trading are speculative investments, which is something that is frowned upon by Indian culture.
India has a love-hate relationship with speculation. All of Asia, including India, loves speculation. He said that morally, we love to say negative things about it.”
Rustaggi said that his time in London as a hedge fund manager was “basically gambling with the money of other people.”
“With NFTs the only way to make money was speculation We haven’t yet as society accepted digital goods.”
Surveys have shown that most NFTs were bought because of their speculation nature. However, some collections can be considered a sign of wealth and status such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT Collection which boasts a long list of celebrities as well as heavy-hitters in crypto and hodlers.
Rustaggi claims that this idea has not taken root in India, despite the emphasis on “social standing” in Indian society.
“Indian social status is very important. Marriage is the biggest expense in India. The average cost of the marriage of your children is 34% of your total life expenses. It’s a major social event and you want to be the best. Social status is very important.
Rustaggi said that NFTs’ speculative nature has prevented them from reaching the same social “signaling level” as luxury cars or Rolex watches, but noted:
“So, I believe that India will soon see NFTs as a powerful signaling tool. It is not yet here, but I believe it will.
Totality Corp’s first “Lakshmi NFT,” inspired by the goddess wealth and fortune, was launched in late 2021. Rustaggi stated that this was the “by far” largest NFT drop in India. It brought in $561,000, from a collection comprising 5,555 NFTs.
Rustaggi stated that the drop was successful because it offered staking rewards of USD Coin ( USC) to encourage the NFT to be held, making it a “guaranteed returns” instead of “speculation.”
Rustaggi is of the opinion that Indian crypto adoption will continue to be difficult as long as there are regulatory uncertainties.
Since 2013, the Indian government has been strongly anti-crypto. Two crypto tax laws were proposed by the government earlier this year. Since then, trading volumes have plummeted and many cryptocurrency unicorns have fled the country.
“The Indian government doesn’t want cryptocurrency […] It is saying outright that they like blockchain, but not cryptocurrency. It’s absurd.