Bengaluru crypto startup Unocoin launches feature to pay highway tolls using Bitcoin

With the new FASTag feature, users can choose among 17 operators and enter the vehicle registration number and FASTag top-up amount, which can be anywhere between Rs 100 to Rs 10,000 worth of Bitcoin.

Unocoin — one of India's first crypto exchanges — today announced a new app feature that allows users with FASTag accounts to pay electronic highway tolls automatically through Bitcoin.

"The platform facilitates electronic toll deductions without the hassles of waiting in queues. With this newly introduced feature, one can get smooth access to this service. The app user needs to deposit or purchase Bitcoin in the Unocoin Wallet along with a pre-secured FASTag sticker to avail of this facility," Unocoin said in a statement.

The National Highway Authority of India operates FASTag as a mandatory payment system to enable contactless toll payment for vehicles.

Unocoin claims that with the new FASTag feature, users can choose among 17 operators listed on the platform. Once selected, the user would be required to enter the vehicle registration number and FASTag top-up amount.

The top-up amount can be anywhere between Rs 100 and Rs 10,000, and users have to ensure there is enough Bitcoin in their accounts to cover for the highway tolls.

Unocoin also claimed no extra charges or expenses are involved while creating a FASTag, and that users can make an unlimited amount of transactions throughout the day.

Sathvik Vishwanath, CEO and Co-founder, Unocoin, said:

“In a bid to celebrate the increased usage of crypto users on our platform, we introduced bitcoin as a new mode of payment gateway for FASTag. With this development, Unocoin aims to make the interstate travels seamless and encourage more Indians to adopt this smooth method of payment for various other transactions as well."

"We currently have over 1.38 million cryptocurrency users on our platform”, he added.

As Bitcoin is not legal tender, Sathvik clarified,

“Bitcoin got invented to enable free and fast transactions across the world like the way messengers solved the issues of communication. On the Unocoin platform, our customers can top up their FASTag with ease. This would be considered as a sale of bitcoin at Unocoin and a top-up of FASTag through our vendors. In other words, this is a simple barter.”

Unocoin was started in 2013 in Bengaluru and at its peak, processed transactions worth over Rs 200 crore per month, it claims.

In 2018, the company had set up a Bitcoin ATM in India — the country’s first such machine — but the ATM had to be removed. India had taken a hardline stance against the unregulated crypto space, and tried to squash all trading operations.

Sathvik, himself, was sent to judicial custody. By then, the startup had already inked deals with close to 45 banks and had started allowing users to recharge their BookMyShow wallets, phones, or DTH boxes using cryptocurrencies.

After being embroiled in a legal battle for 22 months with the RBI, the IAMAI was finally able to win a case in March 2020, which allowed Unocoin to start providing bank deposit and withdrawal services to its customers.

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Edited by Kanishk Singh