Buying Bitcoins in India – ZebPay, Unocoin & CoinSecure Review

Yes, the world is going bananas over Bitcoins, and you’re wondering how to buy some bitcoins in India? It’s become much easier for us Indians over the last couple of years with the advent of Bitcoin wallet companies like Zebpay and Unocoin. In this review, I will talk about my experiences with both companies over the last 6 months or so, as well as some basic grounding on Bitcoins.

What are Bitcoins?

Well, you can read the technical details somewhere else. All I’m going to tell you that Bitcoin is an alternative asset / commodity like gold that is slowly become more and more accepted as an alternative currency. I wouldn’t say it is an alternative currency yet (while you can top up your phone recharges or buy movie tickets online, you can’t do much more).
However, like gold there is a limited supply in the world: 21 million bitcoins out of which 5 million are yet to be mined over the next 100 years. And the demand for Bitcoins is skyrocketing, meaning the price of Bitcoins is bound to skyrocket (limited supply, increasing demand). Meaning if you want to buy Bitcoins, yesterday was the best time to invest.
Bitcoin price graph 2016

Bitcoin going bananas in 2016. Source: Coindesk


Why should you invest in Bitcoins?

Because it is going to give you the best returns in the world. Bitcoin started 2016 at around US $400. It gradually became bullish by being in the US $500-600 range through out the year. And then in the last couple of months of 2016, it went ballistic: crossing US $1100 in the first week of January.
I’m expecting Bitcoin to hit US $3000 by the end of 2017. That’s 3x returns vs your ordinary PPF / FD that gives 7-8% returns. In the next 2-3 years, there are predictions that Bitcoin will easily hit US $8000 – $10,000. (That’s Vinny Lingham’s predictions too!)

Why is Bitcoin going bananas?

My basic understanding is that when the world goes bananas (eg. traditional markets), Bitcoin does well. 2016 has witnessed Brexit, Trump, the Chinese Yuan devaluation, and our very own Modiji Demonetisation. On top of that there are hints that the US Fed rate will be hiked (this means money being taken out of emerging economies, devaluing emerging currencies). And on top of that there was Bitcoin halving for miners. All of these factors have led to a rise in the value of BTC.

Is there going to be a Bitcoin bubble? Is there going to be a repeat of 2013?

Well, I’ve been reading about Bitcoins regularly throughout this year. What I understand:
  1. 2013 was a definite bubble, related to the Mt Gox and Chinese inflows.
  2. 2016 has seen a very different growth pattern: slower and more sustainable. We even witnessed the Bitfinex issue mid-year, yet there is resilience in the market.
  3. It is only the last couple of months that we’ve seen a similar sort of bubble — price rising from US $700 to US $1100. This bubble is supposed to be related to Chinese outflows (I read that in the past week or so China has bought 5 million BTC vs 58,000 elsewhere). If the Chinese government clamps down on these outflows, then yes, we can expect to see a small crash. But I don’t expect it to go anywhere below US $800 and then gradually rise over the year.
  4. If there is another Bitfinex type security issue, then yes, we can expect a definite crash. But as Bitfinex has proved, the market marches on.

How to start buying Bitcoins in India?

First, you CANNOT buy Bitcoins through cash. All purchases have to happen via NEFT / RTGS online transfers, or through PayU money wallets. (Not that any of you have any cash lying around, eh?)
Second, you must register for an account by either downloading the Zebpay app, or online on Unocoin.com
Then, both Zebpay and Unocoin require you to do a KYC before you can start trading. I’ve forgotten exactly what all documents are required but I believe you need to give your:
  1. Pan Card copy
  2. Address proof copy
  3. Bank details
  4. Phone number
Once your verification is done, your account will be activated

Zebpay Review – India

Zebpay is the first Bitcoin app in India. It is also the first app that I began using when I start buying BTC.
What I like about Zebpay:
  • It’s an app. So it is always in your pocket makes it easy to check the latest price and make a quick purchase.
  • You can place “buy orders”. This means you like a price, you can lock it for 2 hours, while you make the transfer online. (There was a mail update that Zebpay is going to stop doing this though. I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. I’m not going to keep Rs 1 lakh in my Zebpay wallet. ) Update: Jan 17, 2017 – You CANNOT place any “buy orders” on ZebPay. You need to FIRST put money into your ZebPay wallet through an online bank transfer. I tried this once and it was a big pain. It took 21 hours for the transfer to reflect in my account. The BTC price went up by Rs 1000 meanwhile. Unocoin was much faster.
  • It gives you the value of your BTC investment in INR. I think that’s the big difference between Zebpay and Unocoin. Zebpay seems to be more geared towards long term investers, while Unocoin seems to be more of a janta BTC wallet.
  • While I don’t use either Zebpay or Unocoin for making top-ups / recharges, Zebpay seems to have more partners who accept BTC.
What I dislike about Zebpay:
  • zebpay bitcoin wallet

    Wide spreads on Zebpay

    Wide spreads: The difference between the buying and selling rates is usually quite wide on Zebpay. Currently, the buying rate is Rs 79,161 and selling rate is Rs 75,233. I think Rs 4000 is quite a ridiculous spread to have. While most Indian companies at the moment offer wide spreads, this will reduce as the amount they trade increases. Unocoin, at the exact same moment, is give a spread of Rs 2,000. However, these rates fluctuate a lot, so it would make sense to observe that rates for a longer period of time before jumping to conclusions. Having said that, most foreign BTC companies have much smaller spreads. This is something Zebpay must work towards.

  • unocoin bitcoin wallet

    Unocoin has much smaller spreads

    You need to transfer money through online banking. Which means you have to log into your bank account and make the transfer. And since NEFT / RTGS transfers aren’t allowed at night (so silly), you can’t buy bitcoins at odd hours.

  • Transfering from your bank account to your Zebpay wallet takes forever! 21 hours is ridiculous time period for any online purchase!
  • There is a limit of transactions up to Rs 5 lakhs. You have to call someone to place higher purchases. Maybe you’ll get better rates? I don’t know.
  • You can’t place any auto buy / sell orders based on cut off prices. (I think this used to exist but I no longer see it on the app).
  • Security seems a little slacker than Unocoin. You have a pin lock and the ability to lock outgoing transactions which is great. They should also enable 2 factor authentication.

Zebpay Referral Code

Get free bitcoins worth Rs 100 on your first buy or sell by using the following code: REFTANV9422

Download Zebpay on your Android device»
Or download Zebpay on your iPhone iOS device »Or download Zebpay on your iPhone iOS device »


Unocoin Review – India

I only recently started using Unocoin because I noticed that some of the spreads were a little better than Zebpay, and I wanted to hedge my investments in 2 different wallets.
What I like about Unocoin
  1. The spreads (difference between buying and selling rates) are usually less than Zebpay.  However, these rates fluctuate a lot (in tandem with the market). Zebpay’s rates fluctuate a little less, so I prefer them.
  2. It’s a web app, meaning they have many more features than Zebpay, like you can set up standing instructions to deduct, for example, Rs 50 every day and deposit it into your BTC wallet.
  3. It’s also a phone app. Haven’t used it, so can’t comment.
  4. They allow transactions through credit card, debit cards via PayU money. This is a BIG bonus.
  5. They allow setting cut off to auto-sell (only for large order amounts. They should enable it for 1 BTC as well, and I don’t see an auto-buy?)
  6. Security seems quite strong: password, OTP, and you can enable Google 2 factor authorisation.
  7. Transfer from your bank account to your UnoCoin wallet are much faster than ZebPay.
What I dislike about Unocoin
  1. They don’t lock transactions even for a minute. I was trying to make a payment for a small amount of BTC, and by the time I tried to make the purchase, the rate had changed. So I had to make the purchase from scratch.
  2. Transferring payments is painful. If you don’t want to use your PayU wallet, you have to do a fund transfer from your account to the Unocoin wallet before you want to transact. You can hold this money in Unocoin’s account for 90 days. This doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t want to hold money in someone else’s account, but I want to be able to transact immediately. However, on the positive side, payment transfers to your Unocoin wallet are much faster than Zebpay. 
  3. PayU money wallet limits apply. Meaning you can’t transact more than Rs 20,000 worth from your wallet.

CoinSecure Review – May 2017

Someone had mentioned CoinSecure.in to me as an alternative to Zebpay and Unocoin, especially good for those who are looking to trade rather than just having a Bitcoin wallet. And I have to say, I love Coinsecure!

The spreads on CoinSecure are the best, usually between Rs 500 – Rs 1000 between buying and selling price. This is a huge difference vs Zebpay or Unocoin (Rs 4000 – Rs 5000 spreads nowadays).

Then Coinsecure is a real time trading platform with open ledgers (the openness that Bitcoin is supposed to be!) — so you can see all live exchange trades (buying, selling, volumes, etc. This is something that is completely obfuscated in Zebpay and Unocoin, so you always wonder how they set their rates!

There is a 0.3% exchange trade fee on all transactions on Coinsecure, which is quite reasonable. You also have to transfer funds from your bank account via NEFT. This can sometimes take up to 12 hours to process. Also the negative side is  the UI of the interface does get confusing somewhat, and it would be good for the Coinsecure team to refine it.  and the signing up process is similar to Zebpay / Unocoin (there is a KYC process).

If you are looking to trade Bitcoin in India, look no further than Coinsecure.in!

Last word: the Bitcoin train is fast moving, I really recommend you to jump aboard (on either Zebpay or Unocoin if you are looking for wallets and Coinsecure for trading) as soon as possible!

User Reviews and Comments

  1. Mahesh P Patil says

    Can I use mobile app to buy or sell Bitcoin like zebpay….And if I wants to pay through debit card on that app instead of next or rtgs

    • They all have mobile apps, although ZebPays app is better than CoinSecure. You can only pay thorugh debit card via PayU (accepted on UnoCoin). Otherwise no one accepts credit / debit card payments directly.

  2. harpreet says

    I tried downloading coinsecure app but could not find the same on apple store, also their desktop site is down – please advise.

    • I got a message from CoinSecure saying that they are experience an overload at the moment. They’ve stopped all deposits into wallets at the moment. They are back up now though. It will take some time for all 3 players (ZebPay, Unocoin and CoinSecure) to cope with the increased demand. Meanwhile, the Bitcoin price is going to continue to be volatile for a while. It is a bull run at the moment, with a minor correction last week. The possibility of a hard fork on August 1 will be interesting to watch.

  3. Tania says

    Admin, can you tell me how much is $300 and $600 in Indian bitcoins? I have never used virtual money. On the 12th of May 2017, my computer was attacked by the Ransomware ‘Wannacry’ leading to the encryption of all my data, which had entailed years of hard work and fond memories in the form of saved photos and videos. The Ransomware’s cyber criminals have demanded between 300 and 600 dollars in bitcoin in exchange for my decryption code. Thanx.

  4. Sukanta says

    Current price in all 3 exchange ( Zebpay, unocoin & Coinsecure ) are very high in compare to Bitcoin.com price.
    Today’s current price in Bitcoin.com is $ 2525 but in Zebpay, unocoin & Coinsecure avg. price is more than 1.90 Lacs, it’s means more than $ 3000.
    Can we buy directly BTC from outside indin exchange like Bitcoin.com or joining pool mining with them.

  5. Sukanta says

    Current price in all 3 exchange ( Zebpay, unocoin & Coinsecure ) are very high in compare to Bitcoin.com price.
    Today’s current price in Bitcoin.com is $ 2525 but in Zebpay, unocoin & Coinsecure avg. price is more than 1.90 Lacs, it’s means more than $ 3000.
    Can we buy directly BTC from outside indin exchange like Bitcoin.com or joining pool mining with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *