This startup allows you to earn interest, borrow and spend money based on your crypto holdings
In 2016, Darshan bathija spent a weekend studying Bitcoin. He bought a few books and sat down to try and figure out why the people he admired were vouching for the cryptocurrency.
“I have an engineering background, but I got into private equity and then I started working to build partnerships at TapChef. But all the time, I was watching where the financial disruption was happening. I initially rejected Bitcoin when I heard about it, but it kept coming back to me from some of the smartest minds in the financial industry, ”he says.
Darshan had no idea he was about to sink into a rabbit hole, as the weekend studying Bitcoin turned into months. The more he read, the more he felt that cryptocurrency could challenge anything that was wrong with traditional financial systems.
This triggered the birth of Vaudois, a Singapore-registered Darshan startup founded alongside Sanju Kurian in 2018. The startup treats crypto as a separate asset class and brings basic building blocks of banking to crypto users.
In addition to storing their crypto, Vauld users can earn interest or borrow money based on their crypto holdings without having to liquidate it. They can also spend money through a credit card backed by their crypto assets, and also exchange their crypto for other tokens and fiat currencies.
“Money has not traditionally been separated from current political climates. Financial crises create huge incentives from governments, so I thought a truly neutral system would probably be better, ”Darshan adds.
In crypto, storage and payments are resolved at the protocol level, as all cryptocurrency transactions are recorded on public and secure blockchains. But when Darshan started Vauld, there was an opportunity to offer credit and yield services on crypto holdings – something that was not native to blockchain technology.
Survive the crypto winter
“We became the first in India to offer these services. But when we started it was extremely difficult because of the crypto winter [the bearish crypto market from 2018-19]. It took us nine months to augment $ 288,000, which is a long time for a check of this size. For a crypto business now, increase $ 1 million or $ 2 million even before launch is the norm, ”Darshan says.
He adds that Vauld survived not because of a secret sauce, but simply because the co-founders continued to motivate themselves not to give up.
Their persistence paid off when the crypto markets opened up from 2020, allowing Vauld to welcome over 1.5 lakh of clients and grow rapidly over the past two years.
“We are now a global company and our users are not from one particular country. We see the pull of several developing and developed countries. We make a percentage on the transactions made by these users, and we also charge borrowers a slightly higher amount and keep the difference, ”he explains.
Future plans in a growing market
Today, Vauld is working on licensing its various service verticals in Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Lithuania, Germany, and other countries. Although Indian users do not constitute a significant portion of Vauld’s customers, the Indian market remains Darshan’s core.
Vauld collected a total of $ 27 million so far, and is looking to acquire a million users. Along with other crypto banking services offered by people like BlockFi, Crypto.com Lending, Nexo, Holdnaut, etc, innovation in the segment is heating up and crypto is becoming more common in India and around the world.
In fact, a recent report from the blockchain data platform Channel analysis classified india second in terms of global crypto adoption in 2021, as global crypto adoption increases by more than 880 percent last year.
In the report titled “The Global Crypto Adoption Index 2021”, Chainalysis ranked India just behind Vietnam, which took first place out of 154 countries surveyed. For entrepreneurs like Darshan and others in the making, this presents an opportunity.
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