An upcoming Diwali, two of Bollywood's leading men are pitching another option during India's annual gold shopping spree: cryptocurrencies.
India's top two crypto platforms each have one known stars - one amitabh Bachchan - may be the best international actor of all time - to promote cryptocurrencies as a good investment ahead of Dhanteras, the most important day in the Hindu calendar to buy gold or start new ventures. Indians have expanded their Diwali investments to include stocks, real estate, diamonds and other assets.
Cryptocurrency exchanges like CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX offer Bitcoin as another option to invest. Ease, though, may not be the central concern. The Reserve Bank of India effectively banned cryptocurrency trading until the courts lifted the prohibitions in March 2020. Since then, the government has flirted with crypto governance legislation which could change the landscape for investors.
Tapping celebrity pitchmen helps push crypto into the mainstream and, particularly in Bachchan's case, adds a measure of respectability. In addition to a voice of god baritone, Bachchan has been the celebrity face of RBI's campaign against banking fraud, online and otherwise.
Following a third of the RBI's plans for a virtual currency, India remains critical of cryptocurrencies, advocating that the government ban them. Over the weekend, officials met with Bachchan to reiterate its concerns, according to a person familiar with the development. The star said he'd reconsider his relationship with CoinDCX, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details are private.
Représentants for the CoinDCX and the Central Bank did not respond to emails or to questions sent by email. I got to Bachchan in her car last night but no one answered the text messages, calls and texts.
Singh, star of blockbusters like Padmaavat and Gully Boy has a fan base that skews toward YOLO millennials as well as small-town Indians. The CoinSwitch tie-up is recent, the platform is a country's largest crypto portal for online trading with 10 million users so far.
Other Indian exchanges have attempted to demystify crypto for first-time investors, making it possible to sell or buy with two or three clicks.
A slew of global celebrities have made the case for digital coins. In the United States, football star Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen have a stake in NFL and costar in its ad campaign. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Snoop Dog have also endorsed various crypto games.
According to at least one measurement, the pitches work: some 45% of crypto investors said they'd invest based on a celebrity's endorsement, according to a survey by Morning Consult. Of investors more broadly, 20% said they could be swayed by A-listers.