Abid Hussain Barlaskar

“Indians are aware of cryptocurrencies but aren’t knowledgeable”: Ramalingam Subramanian, CoinDCX

The crypto exchange’s debut ad campaign ‘Bitcoin Liya Kya?’ has been making all the right noises and has fetched a million downloads.

Cryptocurrency exchange CoinDCX’s debut ad campaign aims to get more Indians to explore crypto investments. The campaign also happens to be among the earliest for crypto trading as a segment in India.

The campaign’s tagline ‘Bitcoin Liya Kya?’ nudges viewers to explore cryptocurrency as an investment option, alongside other assets like real estate, etc. It puts the focus on the CoinDCX Go app to drive downloads and new user adoption.

The campaign comes at a time when the crypto scene is undergoing major upheavals, both globally and in India.

While China imposed restrictions on banks and payment companies from providing services to cryptocurrency-related transactions, a business daily report suggests possible regulation in India.

However, there are a host of things about CoinDCX’s campaign that stand out. And if the regulation tide favours cryptos in India, it could be remembered as an initiative that laid the initial tracks for crypto adoption in the country.

The CoinDCX team informs that the campaign ideation and execution did not involve an agency but a group of content creators.

In conversation with afaqs!, Ramalingam Subramanian, head of brand and communication, CoinDCX, says that a core thought was to steer clear of discussing “astronomical gains”, something that cryptos are commonly associated with. This was because the brand wasn’t promising profits, but introducing the asset to the masses.

“Then we wanted to put out a question that people can ask themselves - if they had explored other available investment options available out there. It was about raising a question in everyone’s mind.”

However, investments and money are serious topics, often involving worries of market risks, safety, etc. The situation is particularly worrisome in the case of cryptocurrencies due to the absence of regulation in the country.

Instead of a serious assuring tone, CoinDCX has chosen humour. The ad invokes fun and excitement. Like CoinDCX, fellow crypto industry player CoinSwitch too used humour in its debut campaign recently.

"Bitcoin, Ethereum and the technicalities involved are heavy subjects. People get scared."

Subramanian says that humour makes the concept lighter and easier to accept. “Bitcoin, Ethereum and the technicalities involved are heavy subjects. People get scared.”

The ad shows a woman educating a man about this new investment asset. Generally speaking, investment conversations in ads have been dominated by men.

Subramanian agrees that it has mostly been men talking about investment and finance. On being asked if the choice of a woman protagonist in the ad was planned, he says, “Women know finance too, and can also ask questions. It wasn’t intentional, but there was a social messaging there.”

"Women know finance too, and can also ask questions."

When it comes to crypto awareness among Indians, Subramanian says that people, in general, are aware of the topic, but aren’t knowledgeable.

“Everyone knows it from various different angles. Someone knows it as a very highly volatile asset class, purists call it the new age digital currency, and so on.”

"Everyone knows it from various different angles."

Subramanian’s point of view reminds of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The story was about a group of blind men who learn and conceptualize what an elephant is by touching different parts of the animal’s body. All of them get different ideas about it.

Blind men and the elephant.
Blind men and the elephant.

With only around one per cent of the country’s population trading in cryptos, Subramanian says that the potential is huge.

A major step to drive mass adoption is simplification of the trading process. While CoinDCX runs its ‘pro’ platform for experienced traders, it launched the CoinDCX Go app for new investors in January (2021).

The user onboarding is simple too. A new user only needs a mobile phone and a bank account for the KYC process.

There are several thousand crypto assets available in the global market, but the CoinDCX Go app curates only those which meet global compliance standards. These have been approved by regulated global platforms like Coinbase.

“On CoinDCX Go, we have a limited number of assets vetted through a compliance framework by our teams. This provides a safety cushion for our new investors. We have learnings from our global presence.”

The platform has seen a surge of new users, post the campaign, and has recently touched a million downloads.

“We have started seeing people coming in from different quarters, like rural areas. Products, like CoinDCX Go, are making it easier for people to enter. Overall, the sentiment is good and so is the traction.”

Apart from the digital video campaign on social media and platforms, like Hotstar, etc., the brand has also been running a parallel social media campaign featuring cricketers (due to the Indian Premier League, or IPL), and other popular faces like Nora Fatehi. The social campaign was kicked off by former cricketer-turned-commentator Virender Sehwag.

"The idea was to normalise crypto and Bitcoin."

“The idea was to normalise crypto and Bitcoin. The choice to use Sehwag, as a starter, was to bust the notion and doubt that crypto was only for the younger audience,” Subramanian signs off.

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