For nearly half a year, India’s crypto enthusiasts have been searching for the cryptocurrency ethereum (ETH) over bitcoin (BTC). At the end of February, researchers confirmed ETH searches were twice as likely over BTC. Could the world’s second most populated country be souring on the world’s most popular cryptocurrency?
India Is Searching More for Ethereum, According to Researchers
According to Jana, a free internet provider in India, “Ethereum topped bitcoin as the most searched-for cryptocurrency in India over the past five months, commanding a 34.4% share of currency searches overall versus bitcoin’s 29.9%,” Quartz India reports. The results were published in Jana’s Mobile Majority study, finding the “next most searched-for currency was Buyucoin (NEM) with a 21.2% share, and the rest captured 5% or less.”
The CEO of Jana, Nathan Eagle, believes, “The government recommending shutting down exchanges and limiting currencies altogether, coupled with the decline in prices, has lead to the feverish pitch waning away dramatically. There are still quite a lot of searches but maybe we’re getting closer to what a true steady state should look like.” Part of the problem might be bitcoin’s success, ironically. It tends to get the majority of attention when concerns about cryptocurrencies arise. In recent months, India’s government and regulators have suggested everything from crypto not being legal tender to shutting exchanges.
Jana used its Mcent browser to find currency terms searched for and exchange visits over a five-month period, October of last year through February 2018. According to Quartz India, “Ethereum searches were double that of bitcoin during last week of February.”
Thirty percent of all searches during that period happened at the height of bitcoin’s run during December of last year. There seems to be an almost inverse relationship between searches for ethereum and bitcoin’s price: the more of one necessarily means less of the other. Mr. Eagle explained how “search volume is a leading indicator of what has momentum and is showing signs of growth. It may not correspond to people buying more ethereum, but there’s certainly a lot more interest,” he told Quartz India.
India’s Uneasy Relationship with Crypto
What is clear is that India has an uneasy relationship with cryptocurrencies generally and bitcoin in particular. And though the Jana study points to a downturn in bitcoin enthusiasm, there are welcoming signs. As we explained, companies “trying to establish themselves in the crypto sector and raise funds through cryptocurrencies are increasingly turning to India…Outsourcing advertising and marketing operations to Indian agencies offers startups a cheaper alternative now.”
Non-governmental associations are welcoming even while India’s government is hostile. “An Indian chamber of commerce is launching a bitcoin mining training program in 30 cities across India,” News.Bitcoin.com reported. “The goal is to teach young people about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, crypto mining, and entrepreneurship to empower the rural population for self-employment.” There’s even “an initiative is bringing new investors on board. Bitcoin gift vouchers are gaining popularity in India’s IT hub – Hyderabad. A growing number of Indians like the idea of a cheap and low-risk entry into cryptocurrencies.”