Inside India’s nascent NFT sector | KrASIA (2023)

When Vimal Chandran, a visual artist based in the Kerala state of India, dropped his first NFT on the country’s WazirX NFT marketplace in June 2021, little did he know that it would be sold in under 24 hours. Titled The Arrival,the animated digital art is a re-imagination of characters from Kuthira Vela, a traditional procession of decorated wooden horses often seen in temple festivals in Kerala.

Chandran began exploring NFTs in March 2021 and was one of the first artists to launch on the platform. “I call myself an ‘internet native artist,’ so NFTs are a natural progression for me in my work,” Chandran, who has been in the digital art space since 2008, told KrASIA.

To date, he has sold eight NFT artworks on the platform—some of which were sold in a matter of minutes. Moreover, his eighth NFT, titled WAGMI (short for NFT slang “we’re all gonna make it”), is the highest sold NFT (at the time of writing) on WazirX, fetching 8,088 WRX (WazirX’s native token) or about USD 9,000. He has also sold four other NFTs on Foundation, a US-based NFT marketplace.

Inside India’s nascent NFT sector | KrASIA (1)

For the uninitiated, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that use blockchain technology to represent the ownership of both digital and physical items. These tokens can represent anything from art, memes, music, and GIFs to even full-length feature films, event tickets, real estate, and more.

While NFTs have been around for a couple of years, they witnessed a meteoric rise in 2021. This was mainly driven by celebrities, major brands, and renowned traditional art auction houses like Christie’s entering the space. In 2021, the global NFT trading volume soared to over USD 23 billion. While India is behind countries like Japan and the Philippines in NFT adoption, the trend is gaining traction in the country. Amid this, Chandran was not the first or only local artist to reap the benefits.

NFTs paved the way for artists to reach an otherwise inaccessible audience. Traditional art galleries, with their “centralized approach,” often catered to a “closed circuit” of artists and collectors, said Chandran.

“NFTs create a space for digital artists who were previously working for agencies or brands to go independent and share their version of the story,” Chandran said. “NFTs are not just about art; it’s about the token, and the possibilities of using that ecosystem are endless.”

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Besides, it’s not just artists who are joining the NFT craze. According to Ishita Srivastava, a research partner at emerging technology investment fund Woodstock Fund, nearly every entertainment organization and talent management agency had been looking into NFTs “to connect with their fans” and “create more avenues for monetization.”

“NFTs are a great tick for the creator economy,” she told KrASIA. “They give you very close access to your fans. It allows the whole communication to become two-way.”

This is why some local celebrities, including actors, cricketers, and singers, have released their own NFTs. A notable example is Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s NFT collection, which was auctioned in November for USD 966,000—the highest total price in the nation. The NFTs were sold on local NFT marketplace, powered by NFT ecosystem provider GuardianLink.

Inside India’s nascent NFT sector | KrASIA (2)

Creators only make up one side of the coin. The buyers—or collectors, as they are known in the NFT world—play an equally important role.

“From a collector mindset point of view, most of them are looking at these digital assets from a trading perspective. This means when they buy from a creator, it’s an asset that they hold, and then after a period of time, they can sell it in the secondary market at a higher price,” Vishakha Singh, co-founder and vice president of WazirX NFT Marketplace, told KrASIA.

The growing number of NFT startups

Numerous startups in India are now banking on the growing interest in NFTs in the country. For Binance-owned Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, launching an NFT marketplace aligned with its “larger vision” of “accelerating mass crypto adoption” across the nation, said Singh.

“With NFTs, you go mainstream because you get creators and laymen to get involved with crypto,” she added. WazirX launched its NFT marketplace on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) in June last year—a first for the South Asian country.

The marketplace allows users to buy and sell NFTs using WRX. One factor attracting creators to the platform is its low transaction fees, or gas fees, said Chandran. Gas fees are what users have to pay for the computing energy needed to process transactions on the blockchain. Compared to USD 60 to 100 charged by Ethereum-based marketplaces like OpenSea, the gas fees on WazirX are as little as around USD 1.

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The platform has a simple revenue model—it charges a flat 5% transaction fee on each sale, Singh said. Currently, over 1,000 creators have minted more than 13,600 NFTs on the platform. Besides, nearly 800 collectors have brought in net NFT sales worth about 280,000 WRX or about USD 309,000 to date.

Inside India’s nascent NFT sector | KrASIA (3)

WazirX competes with other local NFT marketplaces like,, and BollyCoin, among others. However, the country’s startup scene is not limited to NFT marketplaces alone. For instance, Chennai-based GuardianLink is an NFT ecosystem provider.

“We help brands and artists launch NFTs right from the curation and conceptualization of NFTs to providing the technologies to launch those NFTs,” Ramkumar Subramaniam, co-founder and CEO of GuardianLink, told KrASIA. “We also provide them with marketing services like community building.”

The company uses an algorithm to analyze the data of NFTs traded over the last two and a half to three years. This enables it to better understand how NFTs work, at what prices, and when to launch, Subramaniam claimed.

To date, GuardianLink has launched over 45 launchpads worldwide to help global artists introduce their NFTs. Within the next six to 12 months, it also plans to launch three games and NFTs for two brands in the entertainment and fashion sector.

NFT gaming is another niche sector that startups are exploring. Gurugram-based Totality Corp, for example, is developing an interactive environment based on Web3 technologies, ZionVerse, to allow users to build and play games.

“The idea is to make it easy for anyone to create games on ZionVerse, with the same ease that people can make videos on TikTok and Snapchat,” Totality’s founder Anshul Rustaggi told KrASIA in a recent interview.

In the Indian market, these NFT startups have one main advantage over global players—localization.

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“Localization is extremely important in India and countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines,” said Srivastava. “Emerging economies need contextualization for an application or an ecosystem to work.”

Likewise, Indian users require additional features such as payment integrations with UPI (Unified Payment Interface), which global marketplaces do not provide. The marketing must also reach the local audience, she added.

Homegrown startups bring all of this and more to the table, and investor interest is only growing. GuardianLink raised USD 12 million from Kalaari Capital and others in November. That same month, NFT startup Lysto and Cricket NFT Platform Faze raised USD 3 million and USD 17.4 million, respectively.

According to Srivastava, investor interest in the sector is primarily fueled by the success of the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, which proved that “emerging economies matter a lot.” She further noted, “If you can crack even a single market through NFTs, then you’re sitting on something massive.”

Risks and concerns

Ultimately, NFTs are a speculative asset subject to market risks, just like cryptocurrencies. “What we’re seeing now is NFTs selling for insane prices, which is gathering a lot of attention,” Srivastava said, warning that “the NFT market is volatile, and as such, the monetary value of these tokens can vary drastically.”

In early June, for example, the weekly volume of NFT sales fell 90%. The dramatic dip in sales led many to speculate that the NFT bubble had burst, reported Forbes India. The numbers, however, have since picked up.

Market volatility is just one among a string of concerns surrounding the industry. Another pressing issue is the lack of regulatory clarity. Recently, the Indian government proposed crypto legislation seeking to ban cryptocurrencies as a payment method in the country. In addition, according to the draft bill viewed by Reuters, it proposed “non-bailable” arrest and a hefty fine for violators.

“NFTs, in particular, don’t have a separate legal framework from other digital assets at the moment,” Srivastava said. While hopeful of positive regulation, she added that any “regulatory clarity is great for the ecosystem” and would “help the industry grow.”

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Subramaniam and Singh echoed the same sentiments. Subramaniam stated that the government is likely to introduce new protocols to follow before launching NFTs to avoid any “bad actors.” On the other hand, Singh added that the industry needs more clarity on the “tax elements.”

Lured by prospective profits, the industry is also plagued by scammers stealing artwork and impersonating artists—an issue NFTs were meant to resolve. Recently, a fraudster created Chandran’s profile on OpenSea and began minting his work, leading the artist to caution others on Twitter. The account has since been taken down from the marketplace.

The environmental cost of NFTs is another concern troubling the industry. The Ethereum network, which hosts the majority of NFTs globally, consumes 99.31 TWh of energy annually. One solution, Srivastava noted, is to switch to Layer 2 Ethereum chains, like India’s Polygon network, whose annual energy consumption is 0.00079 TWh. Another is to choose carbon-neutral blockchains like Elrond.

Mindful of its energy consumption, GuardianLink has opted to use the Polygon network and is in discussions with other environmentally-friendly blockchains like Tezos and Avalanche, Subramaniam said.

While the global NFT market is “extremely evolved,” Singh said the market is still at a nascent stage in India. For one, the internet penetration in the country is only about 45%, compared to 90.8% in the US and 92.17 in the UK. Second, she added, the Indian “mindset” holds the country back.

“We, in India, like tangible assets like property, gold, and fixed deposits,” Singh explained. “From a traditional mindset, most Indians find it very bizarre that you’re investing in something intangible—something that you can’t touch, or feel, or hold.” Along with these, India’s low per capita income is also a factor that can deter NFT adoption.

Srivastava believes that starting in 2023, art, collectibles, and gaming will become the most common use cases for NFTs in the country. “But, in the long term, we’ll see more exciting use cases like your identity and documents being NFTs,” she added. “We’ll see utility NFTs like ticketing [NFTs representing tickets for events, concerts] come up in the next two to five years.”


What is the status of NFT in India? ›

There is not any law passed by the Indian government that is related to NFTs. However, there are some regulations that ban cryptocurrency in India and also state that it is illegal to mine, generate, hold or sell cryptocurrencies in the territory of India.

Who is India's first NFT seller? ›

India's first NFT movie marketplace, Producer Bazaar, intends to bridge this gap, along with raising industry knowledge and provide a safe space to purchase and sell content.

How big is the NFT market in India? ›

"In India, the market size of NFT is expected to record a CAGR of 61.6 per cent, increasing from $3.3 billion in 2021 to reach $27 billion by 2028," the report said.

Which country is most interested in NFT? ›

Citizens of China and Singapore are the most interested in NFTs, as of 2021, according to Google trends.

How much is 1 NFT in India? ›

AmountToday at 7:15 pm
1 NFT₹0.000031
5 NFT₹0.000154
10 NFT₹0.000309
50 NFT₹0.001543
4 more rows

Who is the top NFT holders in India? ›

  1. 1 /10. Amitabh Bachchan. ...
  2. 2 /10. Salman Khan. ...
  3. 3 /10. Rajinikanth. ...
  4. 4 /10. Kamal Haasan. ...
  5. 5 /10. Manish Malhotra. ...
  6. 6 /10. Sunny Leone. ...
  7. 7 /10. Sunil Gavaskar. ...
  8. 8 /10. Dinesh Karthik.
Jan 20, 2022

Which is Indias biggest NFT project? ›

Top NFT Marketplaces of June 2023
  • OpenSea. OpenSea is ancient by NFT standards, having launched in 2017, and it's also among the largest NFT marketplaces active today. ...
  • Rarible. Rarible allows users to buy and sell art, collectibles, video game assets and NFTs. ...
  • WazirX. ...
  • Jupiter Meta. ...
  • Bollycoin. ...
  • BuyUCoin. ...
  • Binance.
May 3, 2023

How many NFT owners are there in India? ›

India is home to 1.5 million NFT users; sixth in the world.

Which is the India's largest NFT marketplace? ›

OpenSea NFT Marketplace

OpenSea is arguably one of the most popular, if not the most popular NFT marketplace in the world as well as in India.

What is the growth of NFT in India? ›

NFT industry in India is expected to grow by 61.6% on an annual basis to reach US$3394.2 million in 2022. The NFT industry is expected to grow steadily over the forecast period, recording a CAGR of 44.1% during 2022-2028.

Can Indians invest in NFT? ›

The first step to invest in NFT is to create a digital wallet. Currently, WazirX is the only Indian marketplace that offers NFT investment at present. It is suggested to create an account on WazirX. The second step is to fund the digital wallet with cryptocurrency.

What is the impact of NFT on Indian economy? ›

NFTs can positively affect the Indian economy by stimulating economic activity and creating new jobs. NFTs can also help reduce the cost of specific goods and services, making them more affordable for consumers.

How many Americans own NFTs? ›

2.8% of American internet users currently own an NFT

A poll of more than 28,000 people across 20 counties found that less than 3 in every 100 Americans own a non-fungible token.

What type of NFT sells the most? ›

Sale details: The most famous NFT sale (and the most expensive NFT sale to date) was Beeple's Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69.3 million.

What are the top 3 NFT markets? ›

Overview of the best NFT marketplaces
  1. OpenSea. OpenSea is the leader in NFT sales. ...
  2. Axie Marketplace. Axie Marketplace is the online shop for the video game Axie Infinity. ...
  3. Larva Labs/CryptoPunks. ...
  4. NBA Top Shot Marketplace. ...
  5. Rarible. ...
  6. SuperRare. ...
  7. Foundation. ...
  8. Nifty Gateway.
Mar 7, 2023

How much is 1 NFT in USA? ›

The conversion value for 1 NFT to 0.021 USD. BeInCrypto is currently using the following exchange rate 0.021. You can convert NFT to other currencies like BNB, ADA or STETH. We updated our exchange rates on 2023/06/04 04:42.

Can we sell NFT from India? ›

To Sell, Create a Collection at NFT Marketplace. Create a NFT by uploading the Digital Art, Meme, Short Video or anything. Select Fixed Price or Auction Range. Limited Time Offer: Sell NFT at 0% Fees!

How do I own an NFT in India? ›

Set up a wallet with some crypto assets. Connect your wallet to the NFT platform you will be using to host your NFT. Upload your artwork or the file with your NFT. Set up an auction.

Is NFT regulated in India? ›

Presently, no laws in India expressly regulate commercial dealing in NFTs. The only statutory reference is the Income Tax Act, 1961, which has been amended to include NFTs under the definition of virtual digital assets (VDAs). Income generated from trading in NFTs is consequently taxed at 30%.

When did NFT start in India? ›

Jupiter Meta launches India's first fully curated Non-Fungible Token (NFT) marketplace, taking it live on February 23.

Which is India's first NFT platform? ›

Detailed Solution. The correct answer is WazirX. India's largest crypto exchange, WazirX, announced the country's first NFT marketplace on 31 May 2021.

Which brands use NFT in India? ›

These companies range from Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), Ceat & MG Motor in the automobile space to jewellery brand Tanishq from the Tata Group, to travel aggregator MakeMyTrip. They have introduced their own NFTs.

Who is the designer of NFT India? ›

Renowned Indian designer duo Pankaj & Nidhi recently launched the NFT space by releasing three exclusive digital artworks on NFT marketplace WazirX, in collaboration with FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week.

What is the biggest NFT growth? ›

Revenue in the NFT market is projected to reach US$1,601.00m in 2023. The average revenue per user in the NFT market amounts to US$114.80 in 2023. From a global comparison perspective it is shown that the highest revenue is reached in the United States (US$781,900.00k in 2023).

Who is the NFT boy from India? ›

Highlights. Benyamin Ahmed learnt coding from his father at the young age of five and he got instantly hooked. He released his own whale-themed collection of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) digital artworks last year.

Who is the biggest NFT investor? ›

Concurrent with this uptick in popularity, Andreessen Horowitz and Paradigm (Crypto Fund), two of the largest venture capital firms worldwide became leading investors in the NFT space in 2021.

Does NFT have tax in India? ›

The Income Tax Law, the CGST law, and the Finance Act of India mention the rules that can be used to calculate the tax on buying and selling of NFTs. Any profits derived from the transfer or sale of crypto assets or NFT is subject to a 30% tax.

What is the adoption rate of NFT in India? ›

NFT adoption around the world by gender
United States of America3.8%1.3%
16 more rows
Oct 4, 2022

Is Blockchain the future in India? ›

One area where blockchain technology is poised to make a significant impact in India is finance. With a large unbanked population and a complex financial system, blockchain has the potential to provide secure and accessible financial services to millions of people.

What do you think is the future of blockchain in Indian industry? ›

With the integration of blockchain technology, maintaining records at each stage of the supply chain will be simplified. This would enhance accountability and facilitate the administrators' ability to identify and address the problem areas.

How does NFT damage the environment? ›

The storage methods used to house NFTs based on blockchain technology are responsible for emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide, which is harmful to an already overheated planet.

Is NFT trading legal in India? ›

LEGALITY. Presently, no laws in India expressly regulate commercial dealing in NFTs. The only statutory reference is the Income Tax Act, 1961, which has been amended to include NFTs under the definition of virtual digital assets (VDAs). Income generated from trading in NFTs is consequently taxed at 30%.

Is NFT popular in India? ›

Currently 11 NFT companies are headquartered in India, constituting 5.02 per cent of the total NFT companies in the world.

Can we sell NFT in India? ›

Binance is a reputed cryptocurrency exchange with its own NFT marketplace. There are various categories from which you can sell your NFT – gaming, entertainment, collectables, sports, art, etc. This marketplace supports Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain (BSC). Binance has the lowest trading fee in the market.

Is NFT tax free in India? ›

The Income Tax Law, the CGST law, and the Finance Act of India mention the rules that can be used to calculate the tax on buying and selling of NFTs. Any profits derived from the transfer or sale of crypto assets or NFT is subject to a 30% tax. In addition, no deductions are permitted besides acquisition costs.

How does NFT affect the economy of India? ›

NFTs can positively affect the Indian economy by stimulating economic activity and creating new jobs. NFTs can also help reduce the cost of specific goods and services, making them more affordable for consumers.


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