Unicas will open branches in level II and III cities
Cryptocurrency-based offline financial services firm Unicas is expanding to find its customer base in Tier II and Tier III cities through a series of planned branches in cities like Lucknow, Surat and possibly Indore , Baroda, Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar, among others. By next year, the company plans to integrate more than 2,000,000 customers.
The company currently has a customer base of 10,500 customers on crypto-based savings accounts and lending products, and it will launch five additional branches by December of this year. Of these, three branches will be in Delhi and the other two in Lucknow and Surat. At present, Unicas has three active branches in Delhi, Jaipur and Jamnagar, in addition to its head office in Noida.
Expanding the branch network to small towns will remain key to Unicas’ business model, said Dinesh Kukreja, co-founder and CEO of Unicas Activity area.
“Our target audience includes ordinary people in the 30-60 age group. We’re looking for service areas where people aren’t as tech-savvy or internet savvy as that is where they would need to access a branch. We are exploring cities like Indore, Surat, Baroda, Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar to name a few to establish our branches, ”Kukreja said.
Unicas is a joint venture between London-based neo-bank Cashaa and Jaipur-based microfinance firm United Multistate Credit Cooperative Society, launched in December 2020. The company previously planned to launch around 50 branches in India by the end of this year. 2021. However, they ended the year far from the target due to the pandemic.
Unicas does not have an RBI license due to the nature of its services, which include a cryptocurrency-based savings account, loan products, and a trading platform. It will soon launch its fixed deposit offer.
The startup has partnered with the crypto exchange Bitbns and is in talks with Taxfull, a crypto-enabled tax payment platform.
While the RBI and the government still deliberate on their policy and stand up on the regulation of cryptocurrencies, this leaves various start-ups and financial services companies like Unicas in a gray area as they attempt to self-regulate their policies. platforms.
“We don’t have an RBI license at the moment. At this time, it is unclear whether the RBI or SEBI or some other agency will control the crypto and what regulations will be in place. We are still waiting for that. Whatever decision is taken, we will gladly comply with it, ”Kukreja said.
He added: “When we started in December 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty. I’ve been in the crypto industry for over four years, and one thing’s for sure – it won’t be banned entirely. If it is banned, it will embarrass India.
Kukreja decided to meet his longtime friend and founder of Cashaa, Kumar Gaurav, to start Unicas when his microfinance lending cooperative was hit in the first wave of the pandemic, causing bad debts as many could not repay. .
“In March 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on crypto trading in India and people started following it. After microfinance went through a crisis, I was thinking about how we can disburse loans differently that will be safe for us. That’s when I thought about crypto, ”he said.
Unicas allows its clients to transact and trade in the top 10 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoins, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Lightcoin, Tether (stable coin) and the Cashaa token, among others.
Cryptocurrencies are known for their valuation swings. For example, Bitcoin’s valuation is said to have plunged nearly 20% in the past two weeks.
To cover such a situation, Unicas only provides 50% of the value of the crypto asset as the loan amount for the loan product. “If the value of Bitcoin drops below, say, 50%, the crypto token will be liquidated and the loan will be safe,” Kukreja said.
These loans will function as a bank overdraft where there will be no immediate fixed term for repayment. It can be repaid in a day, a year or even two years. Loans are disbursed at an interest rate of 15 percent per annum or 0.04 percent per day.
For the savings account, customers are offered up to 9.67 percent interest per year. The next fixed deposit will be offered at an interest rate of 12 percent. “Savings accounts are the most popular offer for us. People buy crypto and accumulate it. ”