WazirX Fires 40% of Its Staff: What Ails The Crypto Exchange?

WazirX, an Indian crypto exchange, has laid off 40 per cent of its total employees, confirmed a former employee, while speaking to Outlook Money on the condition of anonymity. As many as 50 to 70 of the 150 WazirX staff were let off.

WazirX said it had reduced staff to “weather the crypto winter” as it wanted to remain stable as a company in these trying times. “The crypto market has been in the grip of a bear market because of the current global economic slowdown. The Indian crypto industry has had its unique problems with respect to taxes, regulations and banking access. This has led to a dramatic fall in volumes in all Indian crypto exchanges,” WazirX said in a statement. 

The employees who were laid offer were informed on Friday that they would be paid for 45 days and would not be required to report to work. Their access was withdrawn immediately.

Falling Volumes

Data provided by CREBACO, a crypto research firm, to Outlook Money revealed that the trading volume for WazirX fell 94.23 per cent from August to September. 

One of the former employees of WazirX told Outlook Money, “Looks like they are in consolidation mode, volume numbers have come down to a historic low for WazirX, so they need to save costs.” 

CoinGecko, another data provider platform, recorded that WazirX’s daily trading volume is down from its peak of 478 million in October 2021 to around 1.5 million as on October 1, 2022.

ED Troubles

Cryptocurrency exchanged WazirX has been under pressure for some time because of Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigations.

But it announced on September 12, 2022, that ED has granted it permission to use its bank accounts. It said this development came about after it cooperated with investigators and provided them with all the required details, information, and documents of the suspected companies that had used the WazirX platform. 

On August 5, 2022, the ED had frozen WazirX’s bank accounts containing Rs 64 crore of the company’s money. It had also raided its premises for alleged violation of the FEMA Act. The ED officials had also searched the premises of one of the directors of Zanmai Labs, which owns WazirX. 

Empty Nest?

The second former employee we spoke to, alleged that both the founders of WazirX, Nischal Shetty and Siddharth Menon are concentrating on their new projects. “The founders have poached some of the staff for their own new ventures,” alleged this person.

Shetty has reportedly started a Web 3.0 project named Shardeum, while Menon has launched a gaming project named Tegro. Both left India earlier in 2022, and are now based out of Dubai.

Outlook Money tried to get in touch with Shetty and Menon but didn’t receive any comments till the filing of the report.

However, the WazirX statement maintained that the company was facing trouble because the market was not in a good shape and would come out strong soon. “This situation is similar to the trying times the industry faced in 2018; at that time, we doubled down and built our innovative P2P engine. The crypto industry operates in cycles and the bear market is inevitably followed by a spectacular bull market. We will continue to focus on our customer needs and continue to build. We are confident that we will come out stronger when the bull market arrives,” read the WazirX statement.

Outlook Money tried to get in touch with Shetty and Menon on different platforms but didn’t receive any comments till the filing of the report.

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