India’s cryptocurrency community is helping the country overcome severe syringe shortage getting in the way of Covid-19 vaccination, but regulation and supply chain disruption pose problems.
Just 5 of 160 million promised syringes reached the country
In August, the India Crypto Relief Fund signed a deal with Unicef India to donate $15 million for delivery of 160 million syringes. This was expected to happen between September and January 2022. However, only about five million have reached India. New Delhi-based entrepreneur Sandeep Nailwal, founder of the India Crypto Relief Fund, told Quartz in an interview:
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We have already delivered the money to Unicef India. But the bigger problem is the logistics. Because the syringes are required immediately, we have to airlift them. The shipping lines are taking two months for the consignment to arrive. Therefore, the freight costs are quite heavy.
According to his estimates, his fund has donated almost 50% of the freight cost to Unicef India, amounting to $5-7 million.
Crypto-to-fiat conversion is time-consuming
Global shortage of shipping containers is not the only issue. The process of converting crypto into rupees is cumbersome and time-consuming according to Nailwal. The main reason for this is lack of a regulatory framework for digital assets in India.
India Crypto Relief Fund has disbursed just over $36M since April
The fund, which was founded in April 2021, aims to support the government in the battle against Covid-19 by channeling money from all over the world towards it. According to Nailwal, his fund has disbursed $36.28 million out of the $429.59 million raised so far. The funds were collected in 10 different cryptocurrencies. Next week, they will transfer about $9 million.
Ethereum (ETH/USD) cofounder Vitalik Buterin donated 500 ether and more than 50 trillion Shiba Inu (SHIB/USD) in May. His donation was valued at as much as a billion. Due to the volatility of SHIB, their value ended up being just $400 million.
Regulatory woes are icing on the cake
In India, cryptocurrency operations are not regulated, which makes the crypto-to-fiat conversion process quite complicated. Nailwal shared that his fund set up an entity in Dubai that gets crypto in USD, after which it’s converted into rupees. The funds reach India in two weeks.
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