May 26, 2022

Coinbase is starting to add support for UPI and IMPS payment instruments in India, making it the first time in years that a crypto exchange is fully functional in the second largest internet marketplace in the world.

On Thursday, several users noted that the world’s largest publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange app has added new payment methods in the country, although the scale of the rollout is unclear. Built by a consortium of retail banks, UPI’s payment infrastructure is one of the most popular and convenient ways for Indians to transact digitally.

Coinbase, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, briefly acknowledged the change on the support page, which has since removed it. It is currently unclear which bank(s) Coinbase is partnering with to support UPI and IMPS payments in India. Under pressure from the Central Bank of India, the Reserve Bank of India, banks have largely avoided dealing with crypto companies.

The company, present in more than 100 markets, has been offering its eponymous cryptocurrency exchange app in India for several years, but the lack of support for payment methods has significantly reduced its usefulness for users in the country. (Coinbase has long offered its Coinbase Wallet dapp in several markets, including India.)

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Instead, Coinbase has been active mainly through investments in the country. The venture arm of the company has supported CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX, two of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in India. The company, which last year acquired Indian AI-powered customer support platform Agara, also backs Router Protocol, a cross-chain infrastructure startup.

Over the past year or two, Coinbase has begun expanding its team in India, with former Google Pay chief executive Pankaj Gupta playing a key role. The company plans to host an India-themed event on April 7 that will feature several executives speaking, including Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee.

Coinbase competitor Binance is also very popular in India. The company, which has acquired local Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, has over 5 million monthly active users on its namesake app in the country and is particularly popular with a more tech-savvy audience, according to mobile analytics platform App Annie.

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