No India does not have 115 Million Crypto Investors
Another deceptively worded report says India has 115 Million Crypto Investors, the truth is nowhere close.
Every few days, a headline makes news across multiple channels around the number of users in India who trade/invest in crypto. None of them can be proven if only 5 minutes are spent researching these “Reports” and yet it is a misinformation printer that won’t stop.
As soon as I open news related to India’s crypto users, I instantly know it has some element of misinformation on it. It is my intuition and I have never been wrong about it.
In today’s story, we look at the headline “Report Shows India Has 115 Million Crypto Investors” and another recent headline “In India, 7.3% of the population owned digital currency in 2021”. Let’s dig.
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India has 115 Million Crypto Investors, no!
This particular news circulated on Sunday, August 28, after Kucoin, a pretty big crypto exchange published a survey they commissioned for Indian Crypto traders.
In the survey report, Kucoin says
According to the KuCoin survey, as of June 2022, there are roughly 115 million crypto investors in India who either currently hold crypto or have traded crypto in the past six months, which account for 15% of the Indian population aged 18 to 60.
If you think this sentence means, “India has 115 Million Crypto Investors”, think again.
First, the number is according to KuCoin Survey. The survey, not research. It means that if they ask 5 people how many crypto users you think there are in India, and if we say 500 Million, the above statement will say, “According to the survey, there are 500 million crypto users”.
So, you get it. They have absolved themselves of this responsibility of truth.
Secondly, the survey was conducted, according to the report, with a total sample of 2,042 Indian adults aged 18 to 60 from October 2021 to June 2022 and included 1,541 self-identifying crypto investors and 501 crypto-curious consumers.
None of the survey questions says, how many crypto investors are there in India. None.
This number is arbitrary. They asked only 2042 people, all of them are crypto familiar, all of them are crypto familiar (yes I wrote it twice), and then they came up with the number 115 million Indians are crypto investors.
Kucoin itself has 20 million customers according to the same report. Whoever Kucoin paid to get this survey done, has convinced Kucoin that the total number of users in India is more than 5 times the entire customer base of Kucoin and the exchange drank the cool-aid without question.
“I am certain that this is not true at all”, Sharan Nair, co-founder of Pyor Edge and formerly the CBO of one of the largest crypto exchanges in India CoinSwitch said.
At the peak, individual exchanges have claimed to have 18+ million users and there have been a lot of overlapping between users of these exchanges. So by best guess, the number should not be more than 25 million. - Sharan Nair
“The 100+ million number, I believe has been a result of poor sampling and direct extrapolation of that sample result,” Sharan said to be.
Varun Sethi, popularly known as Blockchain lawyer, says we must appreciate KuCoin for covering Indian aspects, but he adds that the report is too optimistic.
(the report is) missing key challenges faced by this industry in India, including pressing enquiries by enforcement agencies, non clarification of taxation report regimes, rather the crypto users as estimated by KuCoin surveys being 115milliom seems overwhelming when compared to the ground realities.
Sethi says, the report is a good insight into the long-term future prospects of the crypto industry in India, but unrealistic as of today.
I agree with both Varun and Sharan.
United Nations says 7.3% population in India owned Cryptocurrencies in 2021. Also untrue.
This news came around August 21. Not even 10 days ago. And it took me 1 minute. Just 1 minute. To figure out how it was wrong.
The source cited in the report, Triple-A had already updated these numbers, possibly after reading our analysis breaking down how India does not have 100 million Crypto investors in October 2021.
According to the updated numbers on Triple-A, India has about 27 million or 2% population invested in Crypto.
Did you know only 6-7% of the population actually filed an Income tax return? And we are expected to believe double the population is into crypto?
The bad numbers don’t end here. I got blocked by news platforms when I called them out over another headline weeks ago. “India has lost 1000 crore to fake exchanges”. The report by CloudSEK came up with the number because one fake exchange had 2000 telegram members, and one of their users’ claims (this was unverified) to have lost 50 lakhs so they just assumed that all 2000 members lost 50 lakh INR ($60000) each. There is no limit to how stupid things get when it comes to reports from Crypto.
The original “Researcher” updated their reports after I called them out, but the headlines still remain unchanged. The estimates and the numbers are all BS even after the update. But they definitely warrant a reaction from people, and hence they work.
Why aren’t Journalists fact-checking these things?
I called up some of my journalist friends to ask them why are they not doing due diligence on these numbers.
“We ask exchanges for their numbers, they do not share. So we have to rely on other agencies to give us that number”, one reporter at a big media conglomerate told me on the condition of anonymity.
Aakanksha Chaturvedi, a reporter at Business Today covering crypto news said,
“Most of these reports extrapolate selective data, don't have sample sizes that show a healthy representation of the actual population and/or have shady statistics. And most of these organisations peddle these reports because they have vested interests.”
Aakanksha added that when the impression is that if a huge number of people are investing in crypto, you can convince non-investors to invest. Why? Because in numbers, they find safety.
When I asked another reporter what they think of these numbers, he said, “Most journalists are simply not suited to do any due diligence and editors want these catchy headlines to act as click baits driving traffic.”
He added, “We are under a lot of pressure to deliver X amount of reports every day, so don’t have time for due diligence”.
The entire system is skewed against a normal truth-seeking individual. Not all the headlines you read are true. Not all tweets and surveys are true. Neither are all the statistics.
We must be critical of these reports. Call them out. But the media platforms block us and shut us up from bringing up the truth.
And all I can sit here and think is, who even cares if the truth comes out? The truth is not glamorous. Well, I care, for now. So I try to call them out. I am no longer sure how much this disinformation can be fought if literally, every institution has a vested interest in letting these fake numbers do the talking.
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