Gangtok: If you have been surfing the Internet lately, you may have heard of ‘dogecoin’ becoming the “future of currency” and “an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world”.
With Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeting, talking and going live on Saturday Night Live, the spotlight is back on cryptocurrency, particularly dogecoin.
Dogecoin is named after a meme of the Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu and with supporters including Musk, the cryptocurrency has grown over 10 times in the last three months, with its market cap standing at almost $80 billion as of last week.
While we are several global transactions and shipments away from buying our first Tesla with bitcoins or dogecoins, a homegrown digital marketplace has somewhat shown the way for cryptocurrency to enter our lives.
Enter Sikkimese entrepreneur Rewaj Chettri and his NE Origins, an online marketplace where you can buy products from the eight Northeast Indian states.
Long before the world started talking about bitcoins or dogecoins, Chettri started accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, making his online marketplace the first in Northeast India to do so.
Chettri started NE Origins during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020 and is already becoming a household name among the people from the region.
“NE Origins started largely because our traders, who would otherwise participate in fairs and markets across the Northeast to sell and promote their products, were suddenly unable to do so due to COVID-19. Such traders are our first priority, as they can now sell all their products online,” Chettri told EastMojo.
At NE Origins, all the products are from India’s Northeastern states.
“You can be from any corner of India and still buy Sikkim Supreme’s famous Dalley chili pepper,” said Chettri. Some of the other products from the region include handicrafts, tea, spices, dry meat, etc.
“Axone from Nagaland, gundruk from Sikkim; you name it, it’s all there,” added Chettri.
In NE Origins, all business transactions done through cryptocurrency gets converted into Indian rupees.
“I am not holding or transacting through cryptocurrency. I am accepting cryptocurrency, but the money comes to my account in rupees,” said Chettri, adding: “It has grown popular in COVID times. Due to lockdown, many good resources had to lay off their workers. Hence, a lot of people are today freelancing in a global market.”
For the uninitiated, cryptocurrency is a ledger. “If I need to buy cryptocurrency, I will need a wallet specific to cryptocurrency. Coinbase is the cryptocurrency I opt for. There are different wallets like that for payments,” explained Chettri.
In India, there is currently no legal framework to address private cryptocurrencies. The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which provides for an official digital currency to be floated by the RBI, is under consideration by the government.
Cryptocurrency is, however, steadily becoming mainstream and it is no more about rich endeavours. As per some reports, there are over 100 apps where you can trade in cryptocurrency.
“For our customers, we will soon start shipping internationally as well. Cryptocurrency becomes a very easy option for payment. I was introduced to cryptocurrency around 2012. People feel it’s a scam, but I have seen it grow and I had confidence to accept it. It is an opportunity for me,” said Chettri.
NE Origins is an extended business from Chettri’s previous venture — NE Taxi. “With NE Taxi, we bring the world to the Northeast. NE Origins takes the Northeast to the world,” he added.
NE Origins started accepting cryptocurrency since April end. “The valuation is less, but transactions are happening in multiple cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, etherium and litecoin. Dogecoin could soon happen too,” Chettri added.