Indian Crypto Exchange WazirX Shuts Down with Immediate Effect
Crypto Exchange WazirX Closes NFT Marketplace Due to Poor Traction in 2023
WazirX, an Indian crypto exchange, has shut down its NFT marketplace operations with immediate effect. The WazirX NFT website currently displays a message to that effect. In a statement on its site, Wazir said despite creating a “safe and secure” marketplace, the business “did not gain much traction.” WazirX NFTs has 52,253 items for sale on OpenSea.
On social media, the news was met with surprise. Several tweets referred to “Zero notice,” and some called it a rug-pull.
A Twitter user complained that the NFTs hosted on this platform are no longer profitable. Nischal Shetty, CEO of WazirX, responded to a tweet that called the closure of the WazirX NFT marketplace a rug-pull. Only a day before WazirX shut down its marketplace, Friendsies, an NFT collection, announced a similar decision to “pause” operations, citing market volatility. In the Friendsies community, the announcement sparked fears of a rug-pull.
WazirX NFT marketplace launched in June 2021, followed by several other companies’ India-focused NFT platforms. Some were able to secure the services of top film stars to mint their NFTs, and the market appeared to be taking off for greater heights, with film stars and cricket personalities, in particular, jumping on the NFT bandwagon.
However, a prolonged bear market and an unfavorable regulatory environment appear to have had a significant impact on the crypto subsector. According to Deloitte’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2022, the Indian sports and entertainment NFT market will reach US$1 billion shortly, while the global sports NFT trade will surpass US$2 billion in 2022.
WazirX has also been gradually scaling back its operations in recent months, as an extended crypto winter has decimated the Indian landscape.
The crypto exchange is yet to activate INR withdrawals on its platform, though users can still make deposits. Amid multiple controversies, the company has published proof of reserves to assuage user concerns.
WazirX’s total reserves stood at US$315.56 Mn as of February 22, 2023, at 1:50 PM, with only about US$9.76 Mn on its exchange and the rest parked on the blockchain.
The dispute with Binance over ownership of Zanmai Labs, a company co-founded by WazirX founder Nischal Shetty and the crypto exchange’s parent company, is still ongoing. The public feud began in August 2022 on Twitter and stems from the apparent sale of WazirX to Binance, which was first announced in November 2019. Binance cut off WazirX’s access to its wallet services in January, requesting that the Indian crypto exchange withdraw user funds because WazirX was attempting to shift responsibility for its operations to Binance.
In response, the Indian crypto startup stated that it was considering legal action against the Changpeng Zhao-led crypto exchange. Even though Binance has instructed WazirX to withdraw its funds from its wallets, WazirX’s proof of reserves revealed that all of the Indian crypto exchange’s assets are parked with Binance. The Indian government has also been very critical of WazirX. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) froze assets worth INR 64.
67 Cr in connection with a money laundering case last August, just hours before Zhao’s infamous series of tweets.
The ED had also issued a show-cause notice to WazirX in June 2021 for transactions totaling INR 2,790.74 Cr, a case that is still ongoing.