The engineering talent and the emerging Web3 community of India has caught the eye of Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. The company's incubation and venture capital arm called Binance Labs, which is gearing up for the fifth season of its incubation program, is expecting to onboard promising blockchain projects from around the world, including India, under its wings. The US-based crypto mammoth is actively monitoring India's local market environment to identify the best market approach, Ken Li, the investment director at Binance Labs, told Gadgets 360 in an interview.
“We are currently fielding applications for the fifth season until the end of July. We focus on fundamentals and long-termism to select projects that will bring a direct impact on the blockchain industry. Web3 start-ups in India have great potential to grow,” said Li, who leads the incubation program for Binance.
One project that Binance Labs boasts about having supported in its initial stages is Polygon. The eco-friendly blockchain, which has recently been picked by Disney to participate in its accelerator program, is an Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution developed by Indian co-founders Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun.
As per Li, his team keeps close connection with Polygon's investment team for ecosystem value creation and deal synergy.
In the fourth instalment of its incubation program, Binance had closed a funding of $500 million (roughly Rs. 4,000 crore) with 14 selected teams that were developing products and services around DeFi, metaverse, as well as crypto fintech.
“The criteria that Binance Labs seeks before onboarding projects in its incubation program include business model, product innovation as well as team quality and overall background,” Li noted.
Navigating through innovative projects year after year, the Investment Director at Binance Labs believes that the DeFi space has the potential to create more open and free financial markets.
As per a recent analysis by Emergen Research, the global DeFi market size is expected to reach $507.92 billion (roughly Rs. 40,49,200 crore) by 2028.
Meanwhile, Li expects that building more projects aligning metaverse with other elements of the Web3 sector could decentralise the virtual economy sooner than later.
In his advice to the up-and-coming crypto founders, Li said they need to stay ahead of the curve by constantly learning about new technology trends and having a clear product vision to ensure long-term viability.
“Web3 is a budding industry that holds a lot of potential for start-up founders. I would also advise founders getting into the Web3 space to be focused on growing the ecosystem by spreading awareness to not just users, but to the overall consumer base of fintech in their countries. This may not immediately facilitate any short-term gains in user growth. Yet, it is important to invest in quality research-based education to counter common misconceptions and misinformation in this space,” the Binance Labs honcho added.
Binance has been taking initiatives to educate people about the crypto and Web3 sector via means of online and offline programs.
For now, Binance Labs is gearing up to meet the teams which qualify to be part of its incubation initiative that kick offs between October and December.
As for projects made by Indian minds, Binance Labs is expecting to see more options to pick from.
Earlier this year, the entity made a strategic investment in pStake Finance, a liquid staking protocol, created by Indian developer Tushar Aggarwal and his team at Persistence, a company aiming to build an ecosystem of decentralised apps.
“India has established itself as a fintech innovation hub globally. We believe the same level of innovation can be unlocked in the world of crypto and blockchain. PStake, for instance, allows users to stake their proof-of-stake assets while earning DeFi yields. This project has brought additional innovation into the BNB Chain ecosystem and the broader DeFi space,” Li said.
In recent times, other big names in the crypto sector have also put their bets on Indian talent amid regulatory uncertainties around crypto still prevailing in the nation.
Back in April, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong had visited India, expressing interest in hiring Indian developers to be part of the Coinbase team.
In May, Indian blockchain e-sports firm ‘STAN' bagged investments from OpenSea and Coinbase super angels.
The same month, CoinTracker, a global cryptocurrency tax compliance and portfolio tracking firm, announced its entry into Indian shores in a bid to help crypto users wade through tax complexities and gauge deductions with ease.
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