The problem with Indian crypto exchanges
Weekend PM

The Biggest Problem With Indian Cryptocurrency Exchanges Today

A strong cup of coffee at 10 PM isn’t always a good idea. But, I had one anyway. It kept me awake like it did and I started browsing the internet to burn off the caffiene. I kept switching between multiple things until an article about cryptocurrencies caught my eye. One thing led to another and by 12:30 AM I was having FOMO. I realized that I’d missed out on so much that was happening in the crypto space.
 
So, I decided to start investing. Like any other greedy crypto noob, I wanted to identify and invest in the next bitcoin and become a millionaire. I did a bit of research and came to know that I can buy cryptos from India. I told myself that I should open up an account in one of the crypto exchanges the following day.
 
But, I couldn’t.
 
It took me a really long time to create an account in one of the available exchanges. So much trouble, so many processes and numerous roadblocks. 
 
I became successful after a while because I was patient and went through the process despite the difficulties. But, I immediately imagined an average user. They would eventually lose interest, drop off, and might never come back.
 
This blog post is my observation of the user experience of Indian crypto exchanges. I’d also added a few suggestions on how they can overcome these roadblocks and acquire users faster.

Don’t think about current users. Think about potential users

I don’t know much about cryptocurrencies. I am interested. So, I should be the ideal target persona for a crypto exchange. Not someone who already knows their way in the crypto world. This is what every crypto exchange is getting wrong. They focus on building and shipping the product for pro crypto traders and investors instead of designing the experience for someone like you and me.

Lack of learning module

User education is key to bringing in new users into a platform. This applies to crypto as well. People might have heard about it through their friends or on social media and would have decided to invest. But, they would be hesitant because they’s want to learn more about them. But, where do they start? They try to watch a YouTube video or read an article on the internet.
 
This is a golden opportunity for crypto exchanges. They can have a dedicated learning module on their homepage to educate people about cryptos and handhold them into creating an account. But, most exchanges don’t have a section that teaches you the basics of cryptocurrency.
 
WazirX doesn’t have anything on their home page. They have a blog that was regularly updated. But, I doubt if people would search for it and read it.

Coinswitch Kuber has a blog section that leads to sections like Crypto 101 and Invest 101 sections on their blog. But, it doesn’t have information in chronological order.  For example, when I click on Crypto 101, I’d be expecting to see something on “What is crypto?” and not an article on Polygon.
 

CoinDCX has a learning module, but they have too many clicks and it requires a sign-up to access the free content. Why make the user suffer. Make it available for everyone like a video playlist!

Zebpay is the only player who got this right (but they have a very bad onboarding experience). Zebpay has a Learn section on their homepage where the content is segmented for users with different levels of expertise – beginner and intermediate. They also have a crypto glossary and a video series. The content is not gated. You can instantly access the ebooks.
 

I loved Cointelegraphs’s content for each cryptocurrency (Bitcoin for beginners | Bitcoin 101 | Cointelegraph). Crypto exchanges should try something like this.

Users should be educated on the following areas:
  • What is crypto?
  • How does cryptocurrency work? What are their real-life applications?
  • Why is it beneficial for someone to invest in crypto?
  • How to choose a cryptocurrency?
  • Things you should consider while evaluating a new crypto token
  • The advantages of having a wallet etc.

Onboarding is a Pain

The onboarding is messy on most of these platforms. They let you sign up using your phone number and an OTP. And, within seconds I was inside the platform. For a moment, I thought “Wow! That is awesome”. But, the actual trouble started during KYC verification. The KYC verification is hard and if it fails, you won’t be able to get to the good part like adding funds or buying large volumes of crypto.
 
Here’s how the onboarding experience looked like in different apps.
 
Coinswitch Kuber
I used my phone and email to create an account at Coinswitch Kuber, but my KYC got rejected since the picture on my PAN card and my passport don’t match. My PAN was taken when I was 20 and I got my passport when I was 27. I had become bald and put on weight. Of course, the photos wouldn’t match. But, the name and other particular do. So, why reject! I reached out to them on Twitter and raised a ticket as suggested. Got a generic response in return. Not cool!
 
Zebpay
I signed up for an account on the web app, and it told me to install the mobile app to complete the KYC. I installed the mobile app and used my registered mobile number to log in. But, I couldn’t as it asked me to create an account instead. I came back to the web app and the account I had created was gone. It asked me to register again. That’s it. I was done.
 
Coinbase
It allowed me to register, but when I tried to buy it said “The facility is not available for your country.” Then why let me sign up! They could’ve simply said “Coinbase doesn’t allow you to buy cryptos from the exchange. However, you can use it as a crypto wallet” or something like that.
 
CoinDCX
Probably the easiest onboarding experience of all. I was able to create an account easily and the KYC verification was smooth as well. But, I got stuck in the next step, which I’ll talk about in the next section.
 
I understand that these companies would want to give users the experience of the platform, but offering that experience without KYC verification is like giving them too much hope and taking it away when the verification failed.
 
An ideal flow should let the user sign up and submit the necessary documents for KYC. Once it is verified, you can let them in. This could be a bit hard, but users wouldn’t mind doing it in the beginning rather than struggling with it later.
 

What’s with the Mobikwik wallet!

Well, the KYC is done. Woohoo! The next step was to add funds to my crypto account and buy crypto. But, the problem was most crypto exchanges only allow Mobikwik wallet integration. You’ll have to have an account with MobiKwik, have to log into your account, and you’ll have to add money to the wallet in order to add funds to the exchange. I bet there is a KYC for Mobikwik as well if you want to add more than 10,000.
 

 
There are options for Netbanking and UPI, but they’re often greyed out with a message saying “we’re working hard to bring this feature”
 
WazirX has the option but is very unpredictable. Sometimes, it is available and sometimes it isn’t. Yesterday it said that my bank account is verified but the bank is not supported for this deposit mode. Weird because the mode was ‘Netbanking.
 

 

 
I’m not against using a Mobikwik. But, users need to be given a choice and not an ultimatum. You can have all options, but show Mobikwik as an ideal one due to lower fee or cashback instead of saying “This is your only option”.
 

Warn People in Advance about Selling/Withdrawing Cryptos

At times, exchanges like WazirX blocks the selling of certain cryptos. They call it the ‘rapid listings initiative’ or something along those lines. I guess they do it to minimize too much volatility in buying and selling. The point is, you can’t be 100% certain that you’ll be able to sell your cryptos and get the money.
 
So, while buying certain cryptos, exchanges can show a warning message mentioning this scenario and ask them to subscribe to WhatsApp alerts to notify them whenever the rapid listing is imposed or lifted on certain crypto. This way, users will be updated about the status of crypto at all times.
 
To sum up, the experience of crypto exchange platforms isn’t designed for a modern user. The experience is similar to stock trading in the 90s and early 00s. You’ll have to read about the domain, fill out paperwork, deposit a cheque in order to buy a stock – so much trouble.
 
Lack of customer education at each step and a cumbersome onboarding and buying experience are major roadblocks that would prevent a user from actively using these platforms.
 
These companies should do extensive user research, analyze product usage patterns to understand adoption and drop-offs and most of all should spend a considerable amount of resources to educate the Indian audience. (like the ‘Mutual funds sahi hai’ campaign).
 
And, no – I haven’t bought any crypto yet. Hopefully soon.
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