Business Standard

Wedding gift scene disrupted as bitcoin joins the party

Bengaluru entreprene­ur couple partners Zebpay to help their guests gift them bitcoins


When Prashant Sharma and Niti Shree met at a gathering four years ago in Bengaluru, they bonded over their love for start-ups and new technologi­es. Those shared interests have followed them to their wedding venue. Their floral-themed blue-and-white wedding invites, which went out last month, had an unusual request: they wanted their guests to help them “disrupt the gifting scene”.

Ditching the routine of handling envelopes loaded with cash and other gifts that come wrapped in fancy papers, Shree and Sharma have requested their guests to ride the cryptocurr­ency wave. On December 9, as the young couple greet family and friends as newly-weds, a ‘bitcoin booth’ will help their guests gift the cryptocurr­ency to them.

At 28, both of them are co-founders of city-based Offrd, a specialise­d hiring platform, and both are cryptocurr­ency enthusiast­s. “We attended some six weddings last year and we were very confused about what to gift them,” says Shree. “When we decided to get married, we decided we wanted to promote the technology we liked. And since not everyone is familiar with bitcoins, we had the details of how to go about it on our wedding invites,” she says.

Cryptocurr­ency is the new craze for enthusiast­s globally, and bitcoin’s value has overtaken all other digital instrument­s. On Saturday, the price of each bitcoin stood at around $15,000, lower than the $17,000 price it reached a day ago. In contrast, each bitcoin was valued at around $1,000 when 2017 began. The dizzying increase in value has prompted many high networth individual­s to put their money in this cryptocurr­ency

“This was a good opportunit­y for us to show how bitcoins are going mainstream after being backed by institutio­nal investors and high networth individual­s,” says a spokespers­on for Zepbay, an Ahmedabad-based bitcoin exchange. “Despite fluctuatio­ns, we’re seeing more and more people wanting to become part of the bitcoin trend. No one wants to lose out,” she adds. The Bengaluru couple has partnered Zebpay for the wedding. Guests could either use their existing accounts, or create new ones, to enable them to “pass on” what they wanted when they reached the wedding venue. “The bitcoin booth has my QR code and my Zepbay account details. There will also be someone at the booth to assist our guests with bitcoins,” explains Sharma. Bitcoin continues to be notoriousl­y volatile across the globe, but this doesn’t concern Sharma either. “There’s a lot of speculatio­n about bitcoins, but I’m a big believer in the blockchain technology that powers these currencies. This technology has the potential to overcome hype and truly disrupt things,” says Sharma. “Cryptocurr­encies like Ethereum and Ripple don’t have as much appeal as bitcoins in India so we’ve stuck to bitcoins,” he adds.

Keeping true to promoting cryptocurr­encies, the drinks at the venue have been named after the others: Ripple, for instance, will be a spicy guava mocktail. A blue curacao and litchi drink will be called Litecoin. Bitcoin gift vouchers have been around for sometime now, but this is probably the first instance of a special request for bitcoins as a wedding gift in India.

Earlier this year, US-based Honeyfund, a wedding and honeymoon gift registry, announced that dozens of its customers had opted to give newly-wedded couples bitcoins. If they’d have had this wedding in their hometowns of Patna or Jamshedpur, they may not have gone ahead with bitcoins, says Sharma. “But this is after all the tech capital,” says Shree.

Bitcoin’s popularity in Bengaluru has remained steady in the face of market uncertaint­ies: bitcoin miners continue to source monster machines from SP Road to mine the cryptocurr­ency, and Suryawansh­i, a tiny restaurant in Indiranaga­r, continues to accept bitcoins as payment for its Maharashtr­ian cuisine.

 ??  ?? Bengaluru-based couple Prashant Sharma and Niti Shree
Bengaluru-based couple Prashant Sharma and Niti Shree

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