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Bitcoin Craze Has Badly Hit An Unexpected Target, The Direct Selling Business

The Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA), the apex body of companies like Amway, Herbalife, Tupperware, is going through bad times. Not due to regulatory issues and being badmouthed for being multi-level marketing rackets, as its members were branded in the past, but because of another factor that has generated a lot of hype and interest among entrepreneurs looking to make astronomical returns on their investments. With Bitcoin exchanges having mushroomed, and many of them having vanished after collecting money from investors, the cryptocurrency – touted as “the new oil – has lured many of the players’ younger elements away from direct selling. The impact of the Bitcoin frenzy is particularly severe in the direct selling, which is based on a self-entrepreneurial business model, leading many top leaders in the industry to brainstorm strategies to retain their sales field force in training which they have invested heavily. Emerging industries, like food, cab hailing services and e-commerce marketplaces, as well as direct selling and FMCG, which have adopted an aggregator business model using gig workers for last-mile delivery, are experiencing attrition. Industry leaders have also expressed concern about Bitcoin exchanges propagating their businesses as MLM. “We are all over the place,” says an IDSA official who doesn’t want to be named. “Sales have taken a hit because of Bitcoins – the lure of making quick money is attracting the youth.”