American financial services and mobile payments company Block is entering India with Bitkey, a self-custody bitcoin wallet.
Founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, former CEO and Co-founder of Twitter (now renamed X), and Jim McKelvey, American billionaire businessman, Block offers various services within the financial sector.
Bitkey, the fintech firm’s latest offering, is positioned as a safe and easy way to own and manage bitcoin. The self-custody solution comprises a mobile app, hardware device, and a set of recovery tools. Self-custody refers to owners of cryptocurrencies being completely in charge of the movement of their assets.
The hybrid hot and cold storage bitcoin wallet is sealed with biometrics and is accessible through the mobile app.
Bitkey will be launched in India and 96 other countries. It will be available in India for a price of Rs 12,710, excluding shipping costs.
When it came to picking a country to enter next, India emerged as one of the top markets for Bitkey, Lindsey Grossman, Bitkey Business Lead, told YourStory.
According to Grossman, India proved to be an ideal choice, particularly for reasons such as increasing AI (artificial intelligence) adoption and the prolific use of bitcoin.
The company is exploring partnership opportunities in India but has not found an Indian partner yet. Elsewhere, Bitkey has entered into partnerships with exchanges Coinbase and Cashapp to ensure that users can move their cryptocurrencies to the Bitkey wallet.
Block’s Bitkey launch comes at a time when the cryptocurrency and Web3 ecosystem has had a tumultuous time, with the meltdown of Terra Luna and FTX and fraud allegations against key players such as Binance.
Given these developments, users have grown increasingly cautious about their crypto holdings.
“When we did our qualitative and quantitative research among users in India, both among those who use self-custody and those who have their coins on exchanges, it was pretty clear that they had an anxiety about control and access,” said Grossman.
The Bitkey wallet, according to the company, will offer the convenience of a mobile app, the security of hardware, and peace of mind that if something goes wrong customers can still recover their money.
On compliance with local regulations, Grossman says Bitkey is not an exchange that allows users to buy or sell tokens.
“We are not an exchange, and therefore we are not held to the same general regulatory requirements as an exchange. But we are a globally traded, publicly listed company, so we might not be able to sell in some sanctioned companies,” she says.
Block is the latest international company to enter India in recent times. In July this year, Sam-Altman-led Worldcoin made its presence known in the country. With an aim to provide every individual a unique digital identity, World ID—created through an iris scan by a biometric device known as the Orb—created a buzz by promising patrons free tokens in exchange for their biometrics.
Edited by Swetha Kannan