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London Tech Week

How this UK hyper-growth fintech is planning to capture the Indian crypto market


London-based Wirex is expanding its Wallet product in India, adding new options that will make decentralised finance, or DeFi, easily available to everyone in the world’s second-largest crypto market.

The London fintech has become one of the biggest names in crypto thanks to their award-winning products. With over 5 million customers in 130 countries, they are a leading provider of crypto and traditional currency transactions. CEO and co-founder, Pavel Matveev, spoke with TFN about Wirex’s latest move.

A track record of crypto innovation

Wirex were in crypto before it hit the mainstream. Matveev recalls how he and co-founder Dmitry Lazarichev came together in 2014, “I spent my career in the investment banking industry. I was reaching a time in my career when, to be completely honest, I was a bit bored working in banks. So, I was looking for a new challenge.” Matveev continued, “It was around the same time I started reading about Bitcoin, and we thought, ‘okay, we can start doing something with Bitcoin’. And during that initial phase, we came up with the idea of a Bitcoin Debit Card.”

Wirex’s card was the first time that a single card could work with both Bitcoin and fiat currency, making it the first financial product that allowed Bitcoin to be used — if indirectly — in everyday transactions. While the innovation seems, with hindsight, to be an obvious development for crypto, it started Wirex’s rapid growth. The company now has 400 staff across its five offices in London, Singapore. Atlanta, Dublin, and Kyiv.

The Wirex Wallet

The Wirex Wallet, their latest product, was launched in January 2022. The concept is simple, allowing Wallet owners to hold multiple cryptocurrencies in their wallet. With support for multiple blockchains and next-generation security, the noncustodial wallet promises to bring crypto to the mass market, making it easy to manage different currencies without incurring excessive fees. But perhaps what is most important about it is what it doesn’t have.

By using biometric security, it removes the technical hurdles often associated with crypto. Matveev explains, “we just removed all this complicity of private key seed phrases, you know, you don’t need to worry about, ‘what if I lost my private key? What if my key phrases are stolen?’” By using multi-party computation combined with biometrics as the private key, they have developed a solution that is not just secure, but also easy to use.

Source: Wirex

“We thought, ‘what if people can use the biometric to encrypt the part of the secret?’ What it means is nobody else can can access it,” says Matveev. “It’s a much more secure wallet because you don’t need to worry about private key seed phrases. Nobody can steal it because it’s biometric. It’s also very user-friendly. So, we have a more secure and more user-friendly solution on the market, It’s two birds with one stone.”

Wirex are also partnering with Bangalore-based Polygon to help them scale. “They’re market leaders when it comes to scalable blockchain infrastructure,” says Matveev. The partnership also opens up additional options that Wirex can offer its customers. “We will add in MATIC, as well as supporting other tokens on a Polygon within our ecosystem.” However, the two companies are also collaborating to find new ways they can work together. “There is a product collaboration. We’re exploring ways to work in DeFi, and we’re exploring ways to use Polygon’s Supernets, which is another level of scaling.”

Polygon’s Enterprise Lead, Antoni Martin, noted that, “Wirex continues to add new features and functionality to its user-focused platform and its expansion of payment methods will add to its work in onboarding new users as seamlessly as possible. Polygon is delighted to be part of these efforts.”

Expanding into the Indian market

With one billion citizens, India is one of the world’s largest markets for any business, and that’s just as true for crypto. In 2021 India has the second-highest number of crypto users in the world. India also has many people who do not use traditional banking, meaning that Wirex’s wallet can help with financial inclusion, and does not have the same friction that might be faced in countries where the old-fashioned approach dominates.

And it’s a market in which Wirex has a head start, being the first to offer a user-friendly solution to the market with no direct competitors. “We will be competing for the crypto-native audience,” says Matveev. “But our product is designed for a wider audience. We’re focusing on the people who’ve never tried using DeFi before, never tried to use non-custodial wallets before. This mass market is underserved at the moment.”

The new product will make it easy for Indian customers to access and use crypto, “this is a localised product for India, we not offering it anywhere else,” says Matveev. The size of the market does mean that Wirex can use their experience to build its worldwide offer. They are including the Solano blockchain in the Wallet within weeks, and it can already hold NFTs, a market they expect to grow exponentially. The result, Matveev thinks, will be a wallet that is both comprehensive and easy to use. “People need to have a noncustodial wallet which is user-friendly and which allows them to interact with different decentralised applications. Wirex Wallet will provide that.”

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