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WazirX Founders Relocate to Dubai Amid Harsh Crypto Regulations in India

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WazirX Founders Relocate to Dubai Amid Harsh Crypto Regulations in India

Co-founders of Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, Nischal Shetty and Siddharth Menon, have reportedly moved to Dubai, as regulatory uncertainties in India continue to stifle the country’s cryptocurrency industry.

Nischal Shetty and Siddharth Menon Reportedly Move to Dubai

According to a report by Business Today on Tuesday (April 19, 2021), anonymous sources told the publication about Shetty and Menon’s relocation. The sources also revealed that both co-founders relocated to Dubai with their families. 

However, there is no mention of WazirX shutting its services in India and moving to Dubai, as the crypto exchange still has offices in Bengaluru and Mumbai. Also, the sources said that one of WazirX’s co-founders who is also the company’s chief technology officer, Sameer Mhatre, is still operating from India. 

Meanwhile, there has been no official comment from Shetty or Menon, but according to Business Today, a WazirX spokesperson said:

“We are a remote-first organization with employees from over 70+ locations. This gives all the company employees the option to work from anywhere, subject to their comfort and convenience unless they are required to travel officially. WazirX is headquartered in Mumbai and Bengaluru, and there is no change in any of our operating procedures. It is business as usual.”

Nischal Shetty, who is also WazirX’s CEO, has been vocal about India’s unwelcoming attitude toward the crypto industry in the country. Shetty has been instrumental in pushing against the RBI crypto ban and has continually called for favorable cryptocurrency regulations in India. 

India Becoming Uncomfortable for Crypto Businesses

The latest development comes as the Indian cryptocurrency space is struggling to operate under harsh government policies. Apart from the lack of a clear crypto regulatory framework, the Indian government recently implemented a tax policy that levies a 30 percent tax on capital gains on crypto transfers and holdings.

Before the implementation of the capital gains tax, the Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary clarified that cryptocurrency traders will not be able to offset losses in one trade against gains in another crypto transaction. This statement drew criticisms from several local industry players, who said that such policies will only stifle India’s crypto sector.

Also, Indians are expected to pay a one percent tax deducted at source (TDS) for all crypto transactions. This would take effect on July 1, 2022. India’s crypto tax policies have not been without consequences, as exchanges have seen a steep fall in their trading volumes. 

According to a recent report by crypto.news, major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase temporarily disabled support for Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for cryptocurrency purchases, three days after launching the feature in India. MobiKwik also halted its e-wallet services across all major crypto exchanges in the country, while CoinSwitch Kuber stopped all rupee deposits for crypto purchases via UPI. 

Dubai’s Crypto-Friendly Policies Attract  More Businesses

While India’s policies increasingly make it difficult for crypto businesses to operate, the preferred destination seems to be the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with most firms moving to Dubai. The latest influx of exchanges into Dubai is as a result of the region’s crypto-friendly regulatory framework. 

Cryptocurrency exchange giants such as Binance and FTX have obtained licenses from Dubai regulators, with the latter looking to establish a regional headquarters in the Emirate. Other Crypto companies such as Bybit and Crypto.com are also planning to move their headquarters to Dubai. 

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