Crypto exchange Vauld eyes five fold AUM growth to $5 billion this fiscal: CEO

K.R. Srivats | Updated on: May 05, 2022
Darshan Bathija, Co-founder and CEO

Darshan Bathija, Co-founder and CEO

Crypto industry ready to work with RBI to allay their concerns, says Co-founder & CEO Bathija

Vauld, a fast growing cryptocurrency exchange, is eyeing a five fold increase in Assets Under Management (AUM) to $5 billion from $1 billion this fiscal, its Co-founder and CEO Darshan Bathija has said.

Post the closing of its Series A round funding of $25 million in July last year, this Singapore domiciled cryptocurrency platform, which was launched in 2019, has seen a 10x growth in AUM and 40x growth in customer base. From an AUM level of $90 million last year, Vauld has grown to $ 1 billion and India now accounts for 20 per cent of the AUM, according to Bathija.

“We are upwards of $1 billion in AUM right now. We would like to get to $5 billion as soon as possible. We are trying to make this happen this fiscal. That’s five fold increase and that’s the rate at which crypto space grows. We are well set up to make that happen,” Bathija told BusinessLine.

“We were benefactors of the tailwinds of 2021. We saw NFTs bring whole new wave of customers to us. We did outstrip the industry’s growth rate and we continue to do that. We are pretty happy with the way we have executed so far. Today is only day one. There is long way to go and pretty exciting journey that we are looking forward to.”

Vauld’s Series A funding of $ 25 million was led by Valar Ventures, a Venture Capital firm founded by Peter Thiel, Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald.

“Currently, we have a million customers on Vauld and significant part of that has come from India. Business revenues had gone 10X since last 12 months,” Bathija added.

He also said that Vauld, which has 140 people right now and has operations in the US, the UK, Singapore and India, is targeting to be a 300-people enterprise by the year-end.

“India is about 20 per cent of our AUM. India is one of the important markets we are going after. We really care about India because Sanju (Co-founder of Vauld) and myself are from India originally and want to extend our products to Indian crypto community,” Bathija added.

Bathija’s remarks on Indian market are significant as Vauld now accounts for about $10-15 million out of the total daily volume of about $250 million that are transacted by Indians out of India through Indian crypto exchanges.

Crypto policy 

Asked if he sees India bringing policy certainty on cryptocurrency and oversight framework on crypto exchanges, Bathija said that it is important to note that “the clarity we have today is on taxation and not on regulation”. In its business model, Vauld is focussed on servicing high networth passive investors and not active traders. Unlike other India domiciled crypto exchanges that make money from trading behaviour, Vauld looks to make money based on long-term wealth creation which is aligned to its customers ambitions. 

“Our revenue model is tied to AUM of the lending platform which we are also while being a crypto exchange. We are able to make money as we have built credit system with the crypto asset class. Interest income generated through facilitation of credit transactions is the major revenue stream for us. We are not tied to brokerage incomes like how some crypto exchanges operating out of India are,” Bathija said.

RBI’s concerns

Asked about RBI concerns around cryptocurrencies and if the central bank’s fears are misplaced, Bathija said: “I think to very significant extent their (RBI) fears are fair. We are willing to work with RBI to address those fears. It’s just that it is currently not a two-way conversation between us (RBI and crypto industry),” Bathija added.

Asked how can crypto industry allay regulatory concerns around illicit and fraudulent transactions being facilitated through cryptocurrencies, Bathija said, “you look at ratio of illicit transactions in crypto to total transactions… it is very low. Crypto is possibly the worst instrument to facilitate illicit transactions with. Because there is permanent record for everybody to see in perpetuity. 

“You were to facilitate illicit transactions, you want to use the most untraceable form of money possible and that is not cryptocurrency.. Cryptocurrencies are the most traceable form of money possible as they are open blockchains. The least traceable form of money is cash. So if there is anything scrutinised for illicit financial transactions, it must be the traditional financial system. The crypto world has transparency no financial regulator has ever seen. Argument is baseless and you can infinitely follow the transaction and so it’s silly to use an instrument like crypto that is so transparent to undertake illicit or fraudulent transactions.”.

Published on May 05, 2022
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