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Rumors Circle Around India Crypto Ban

Rumors Circle Around India Crypto Ban

An Indian government panel that was commissioned in November 2018 to draft laws and guidelines for cryptocurrencies has submitted its final report to the government.

According to an anonymous source speaking to CNBC TV18: “The panel has categorically said that all such currencies should be treated as illegal… The law should enlist punitive measures that the government and its investigative agencies can take in case it finds anyone or any entity trading or dealing/holding it”.

This information is generating rumors that India is about to make Bitcoin and cryptocurrency completely illegal, although the official content of the report has not been disclosed yet.

This all started when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiated a legal struggle in the crypto space which was quickly escalated to the Supreme Court. RBI mandated that after 5 July 2018 no one could use bank accounts to facilitate the buying or selling of cryptocurrency. This crippled some cryptocurrency exchanges but the effect was only temporary as peer-to-peer trading accelerated. India quickly became a hub for peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading, also known as Bitcoin dealing. Major exchanges like Huobi soon launched platforms to makes it easier for Indians to trade cryptocurrency this way.

The end result was a cryptocurrency market that was healthier and more lucrative than ever across India as this form of trading became an easy and legal business. This was not the intent of the RBI ban since it made the cryptocurrency market far less controllable.

Analysts believe the government panel may be trying to correct this situation by making cryptocurrency outright illegal, so law enforcement can begin to crack down on Bitcoin dealers. Now that dealers have had months to get established, fighting a war to eliminate them would be intractable. A total ban on cryptocurrency would ironically make Bitcoin dealing even more lucrative.

 

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Russia, India Seek Common Ground in Blockchain, AI Development

India and Russia have issued a joint statement indicating that both countries are to cooperate in areas such as fintech, tourism, and AI.

Further dialogues are due to take place between Russia’s minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin and National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) vice chairman Rajiv Kumar.

The published statement after the first India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue held in St Petersburg last week stated: “Both sides agreed to explore joint working arrangements and pilot projects in healthcare, proposed setting up of a single-window clearance.”

India has been proactive in its support of new technologies in the financial sector, despite taking a punitive stance on cryptocurrency trading largely headed by the country’s central bank. Only recently, SWIFT India and MonetaGo teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security.

NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of state governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

The country’s prime minister Narendra Modi has made his views abundantly clear that new technologies should be implemented to improve the lives of all Indians. Last month he stated:

“New emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain, big data will help India move forward, provide employment to people and improve every Indian’s life. Industry is a process and technology is a tool. However, the ultimate goal is to change the life of the last person waiting in the queue.”

Modi also sees farming as a main beneficiary of new technology, recently commenting, “The responsibility of helping our farmers rests on the shoulders of the new generation… There is one important technology in agriculture-artificial intelligence. In the coming days, blockchain technology will also play a huge role.”

Both countries are increasingly looking towards utilizing blockchain’s potential within fintech and other sectors. Recently, Russian state-owned bank Sberbank revealed details of a partnership with major state-run power company Rosseti, which includes the promotion of emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Together, the pair plan to collaborate on a number of projects with the joint aims of advancing blockchain in Russia, and developing its own internal expertise. A press release detailing the partnerships reads that they will work on educational projects and research trials with one another.

 

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SWIFT India Turns to DLT for More Secure Security, Fraud-Resistant Bank Services

SWIFT India and MonetaGo have teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security.

SWIFT, a major provider of financial messaging services and financial tech firm MonetaGo, see the product as capable of servicing all Indian banks in the future by using the shared network.

Aimed at improving the efficiency and security of Indian banks’ financial products and procedures, the country’s financial institutions will be able to use the DLT network which has been designed to meet all industry requirements. SWIFT India’s CEO Kiran Shetty commented on the latest collaboration between the two companies, suggesting that added security was a clear winner in the project thanks to MonetaGo’s involvement:

“SWIFT India is committed to providing significant value to the Indian financial community through digitization of trade. MonetaGo’s expertise in providing fraud mitigation solutions to avoid double-financing and check the authenticity of the e-way bill gave us the confidence to partner with them.”

MonetaGo states on its website that its solutions use next-generation technologies to mitigate risk, increase capital efficiency, and make capital more accessible.  The company argues that problems in supply chain financing are often caused by fraudulent activity, a factor overcome by applying its solutions through digitalization. The company’s CEO, Jesse Chenard, was quick to point out how Indian banks could benefit:

“Given India’s focus on a digital infrastructure which is supported by both policy and technological innovation, it makes sense that large institutional players are interested in these products and initiatives… This work is going to positively impact the information available to the banking industry at large.”

MonetaGo has been enhancing its anti-fraud capabilities through research and development this year. The new Fraud Mitigation Network platform was created in order to reduce fraud around receivables financing, which was clearly a factor in SWIFT’s collaboration with the company.

 

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India’s First Crypto Draft Bill Expected in December

India’s government is presently drawing up a cryptocurrency regulation draft bill that is expected to be revealed in December.

According to documentation obtained by Tech News website Quartz India, a finance ministry which was set up in November 2017 is due to finalize the first draft for cryptocurrency regulations, something of which has been extremely contentious for the nation.

Deadline

A short while ago, the Indian supreme court gave a deadline to the Indian government to produce finalized cryptocurrency policies. Yesterday, the supreme court heard the case of cryptocurrency exchanges who believe the central bank and government are disrupting the ecosystem, which has knock-on effects to domestic blockchain enterprises.

Headed by the secretary to the department of economic affairs, top civil servant Subhash Chandra Garg and the finance ministry panel are drafting the bill for cryptocurrency regulations. It is expected to be discussed further over the coming weeks.

According to the government’s counter-affidavit:

“…currently, serious efforts are going on for preparation of the draft report and the draft bill on virtual currencies, use of distributed ledger technology in (the) financial system and framework for digital currency in India. The draft report and bill will be circulated to members of IMC (inter-ministerial committee). Thereafter the next meeting of IMC will be held so that discussion can take place on the draft report and bill. It is expected that the draft report will be placed before the IMC by next month.”

Crypto-confusion

In April 2018, cryptocurrencies became a tricky topic for India after the nation’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), released a press release that on the surface appeared to be an outright ban on cryptocurrencies in India.

As a result, the decision was petitioned heavily and relatively misunderstood; the press release did not call for the ban of cryptocurrencies precisely but instead was a policy decision made by the RBI, who were suggesting for all banks and regulated entities within its regulatory scope to not facilitate any transaction that entailed cryptocurrencies due to “associated risks”.

Additionally, numerous news articles revealing a potent blockchain workforce in India, as well as further comments from industry stars such as Tim Draper were hitting the headlines, furthering the case for crypto-clarification as domestic enterprises were expected to suffer.

Blockchain technologies have received a fair amount of praise from government officials, and a recent private sector transaction via the blockchain was completed, yet cryptocurrencies remained an ambivalent topic. While considered as risky, India has speculated the use of crypto tokens for financial transactions and public transportation.

 

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PR: WIRESUMMIT 2018: Exclusive Gathering of Investors and Blockchain Startups is Around the Corner

Bitcoin Press Release: WIRESUMMIT 2018 is a blockchain gathering in India bringing together startups in the sector with industry investors.

Nov 12th, 2018, Delhi – WIRESUMMIT 2018, an upcoming blockchain event for the broader blockchain communities is around the corner. The exclusive gathering of investors and blockchain startups is being organized in the capital city of India on December 2nd, 2018. Sources close to the organizers stated that they are strategically hosting the event in New Delhi with an expectation to attract blockchain enthusiasts, experts, influencers, investors, owing to its strategic location and proximity to government organizations.

With every event, the #WireSummit is committed to becoming the largest and the most extensive blockchain-oriented event of 2018 in the industry. The event is organized by one of the most well-known news platforms in the industry, BTCWIRES. The blockchain news outlet has in the past covered various global blockchain conferences and summits.

The theme of the event will revolve around the promotion of blockchain and Dapp projects for investment promotion, facilitation and execution.

Event Format?

With an exclusive invite-only attendance, the Wire Summit Invest 2018 will witness the coming together of select blockchain and Dapp startups along with some of the most experienced investors and venture capitalists in the market.

As per their website, “Wire Summit’s Investor Edition looks forward to setting a benchmark in India when it comes to startup funding in India“. Sources at BTCWIRES elaborated that the primary goal of the Summit’s First Edition is to promote investment in revolutionary ideas of startups working in the blockchain world. The Summit is poised to serve as the breeding ground for the world’s next and upcoming blockchain companies.

A particular process devised for participation in the event enables both startups and investors to be shortlisted before the Summit – based upon their value proposition and investment portfolio respectively.

It will save a lot of time for the parties involved in conducting due diligence, verification and validation of the Proof of Concept. The particular idea was to maintain a high conversion ratio and successful closures.

What to expect at the Wire Summit Invest 2018?

The blockchain event will be graced by more than 1,000 investors, and it will be underscored by keynotes from sought-after experts in the blockchain world. With reputed media partners slated to cover the event, participating startups will get a chance to showcase their products and ideas to a massive audience around the globe. Startups and blockchain companies will get the chance to pitch their ideas and products to experienced investors, venture capitalists, and fund managers.

At the event, one can also expect to network with some of the most influential people in the business world- from founders of pioneering startups, MDs, CxOs of the biggest firms and Vice Presidents, including professionals from bluechip companies.

How to reserve your seats?

The private nature of the event restricts the entry to only investors and chosen startups. The BTC Wires team has made sure to include investors who have a definite knowledge in this particular domain and have shortlisted the same based upon their investment portfolio.

However, if you are keen to participate in this niche event, you can apply for consideration to the organizing committee by requesting an invite to the official website of Wire Summit Invest 2018.

For more information, visit www.wiresummit.org.

BTC Wires is the source of this content. Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. Cryptocurrencies and tokens are extremely volatile. There is no guarantee of a stable value, or of any value at all. Token sales are only suitable for individuals with a high-risk tolerance. Only participate in a token event with what you can afford to lose.

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India Completes First Business Transaction on Blockchain

The largest private sector company in India, Reliance Industries, has successfully partnered in a blockchain business transaction in a first for the country.

Reliance, an oil and energy conglomerate looked after by the wealthy Ambani family, has completed a DLT-based transaction from US-based Tricon Energy which is a worldwide chemicals provider. The end-to-end transaction used R3’s Corda blockchain system, according to a press release by Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation bank (HSBC)’s branch in India. Corda is a shared platform for transacting partners that can be used across the globe.

The transaction was facilitated by banking giant ING Bank Brussels and HSBC itself through a letter of credit. The letter was a guarantee of the buyer’s payment for a shipment between the two energy giants. Such a large payment normally takes 7-10 days for processing including export documentation but the blockchain solution had it completed within one day.

The HSBC India press release stated: “This transaction validates the commercial and operational viability of blockchain as an alternative to conventional exchanges for paper-based documentation.”

The transaction is the latest example of how blockchain technology is being implemented by banks around the world for improving transaction times and increasing transparency. Digitizing trade is the utmost priority for banking circles and the DLT provides a credible means to that end.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 26th October to 1st November 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Japan

Government declares stablecoins are not crypto: The Japanese financial watchdog, Financial Services Agency (FSA), has declared that stablecoins like USD Tether, Gemini Dollar and USD Coin (USDC) are not cryptocurrencies under the law. Under the ruling, they are prepaid payment instruments and will be regulated under different rules than cryptocurrencies.

The move comes because of the inherently different nature of stablecoins that is puzzling regulators around the world. While all other cryptocurrencies have a fluctuating price, stablecoins have a constant price they use blockchain technology.

The new move could spell major obstacles for Japanese companies to issue and transact USD stablecoins. While Japan has already voiced doubts about Central Bank Digital Cryptocurrencies (CBDCs), this is the first time it has categorized stablecoins differently.

Singapore

Country celebrates 10th Bitcoin anniversary: At the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin, Singapore has announced a national crypto event for two weeks and has used the celebrations to promote blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the country.

Singapore is gearing for further adoption of DLT and cryptocurrencies and already tens of thousands of Singaporeans own cryptocurrencies with regulators taking the backstage to allow the digital innovation’s promotion.

China

China opening up to crypto: China is opening up to cryptocurrencies following recent moves by the government to allow Bitcoin ownership and payment in the country. In a groundbreaking move, the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration ruled that merchants can accept Bitcoin as payment in the country. As a result, Chinese can even own and transact Bitcoin under the law.

While the ruling may not bring direct changes, as the court did pass the buck back to the government regarding regulations, other moves indicate that the state is working to open up to the crypto world, albeit slowly.

Hong Kong

Regulator proposes sandbox approach in crypto regulation: Hong Kong’s top securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), has proposed a sandbox approach towards cryptocurrency legislation in the Chinese district. The idea was pitched by SFC chief executive Ashley Adler at the recent Hong Kong Fintech Week.

While Adler acknowledged the presence of some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, he also raised concerns regarding their regulatory status. Hong Kong is home to two of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world including Bitfinex and Binance.

According to Adler: “If, and only if, we decide at the Sandbox stage that we should regulate, we would consider granting a license… the platform would then be subject to intensive reporting and monitoring to ensure that strict internal controls operate as expected and investor interests are protected.”

The future of Hong Kong’s regulations are important as thousands of users will be affected by them.

India

India looks to ban crypto, keep DLT: A member of the Indian government has said that the government should look to ban private cryptocurrencies and increase the use cases of blockchain in the country.

This pro-DLT, anti-crypto strategy has been implemented by mainland China, India’s neighbor, and it seems the regional approach is now going to be in the norm. Due to the legal battles surrounding cryptocurrencies, the Indian government was given two weeks by the Supreme Court to finalize policies regarding them.

DLT projects in the country include a Hitachi-State bank partnership for digital payments.

Australia

Australia post starts digital ID platform: Australia Post is enabling cryptocurrency traders to easily access exchanges through a new platform called Digital ID. The new platform enables users to produce documents like drivers’ licenses and passports easily for initial verification which is required by the exchanges.

A Brisbane crypto exchange Digital Surge was the first to use the platform and commented on its easy user experience.

 

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Indian Government Official: ”Ban Private Crypto, Keep Blockchain”

A member of the Indian government has said that he believes there should be a ban on ”private cryptocurrencies“, although the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) should be promoted.

Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, Shri Subhash Chandra Garg, shared his opinions during a meeting held by the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), headed by India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to give the Indian government just two weeks to produce a finalized version of digital currency policies, the FSDC meeting addressed this issue alongside its discussion of the current economic and financial situation in the country.

A press release shared by the government outlining the meeting details that upon Garg’s lead, the council deliberated on how to ”devise an appropriate legal framework to ban [the] use of private cryptocurrencies in India”.

A group of local lawyers under the Twitter handle Crypto Kanoon shared a quote from this release, querying whether this means both possessing and trading cryptocurrency would be prohibited.

Mr. Garg briefed FSDC Council on:

“..deliberations in the High-level Committee to devise an appropriate legal framework to ban use ofprivate crypto currenciesin India”

Does the abovesaid indicate that the possession and trading of Crypto are going to be permitted?#BPositive pic.twitter.com/RvfX0FhYOM

— Crypto Kanoon (@cryptokanoon) October 31, 2018

Despite the anti-crypto sentiment of the meeting, the release indicates that Garg encouraged the adoption of DLT in India.

Counting down

The Supreme Court’s two-week deadline for the government to produce regulations comes after months of outrage from the cryptocurrency community because of the central bank’s ban on facilitating any crypto-related transactions, was imposed in April. The original petition following RBIs decision has over 44,000 signatures to date, with a goal of reaching 50,000 calling for the government to reverse the ban.

With an infant crypto industry on shaky ground in India and numerous jobs on the line, the Supreme Court determined that it was the government’s responsibility to clarify direct policy on the matter.

These two weeks run out on 10 November.

 

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Hitachi and Indian Bank Announce Partnership for Digital Payments Platform

Hitachi’s Payments Division is partnering with State Bank of India (not the reserve bank) to establish a digital payments platform that will work throughout the country, according to a Press Release by Hitachi on 29 October.

Under the agreement, Hitachi will provide the bank with Internet of Things (IoT) platform Lumuda as part of the government’s Digital India reform plan. Lumuda is a new base platform that was developed by the Japanese company as Proof-of-Concept (PoC) for a supply chain management task for Mizho Financial Group based in Japan last year.

State Bank of India is the largest commercial bank in India with 23% share of assets and 25% of all deposits and loan market in the country with over 420 million customers. The government, which owns a majority stake in the bank is looking to revamp the operations of the bank with technology and cut costs on its running.

Hitachi Payments seems to have the solution as it is promoting the acceleration of digitization of financial services in the country with Lumuda and other blockchain-based technological solution for digital services. Hitachi has already been providing payment services to the bank since 2011 but none of them were DLT-related until now. Hitachi is also expected to invest up to 26% in the bank’s payments subsidiary because of India’s big market potential for the financial services industry.

While India is progressing further on blockchain-based solution, cryptocurrencies and ICOs are still officially banned in the country due to the government’s attitude.

 

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Indian Government Given Two Weeks to Clarify Official Cryptocurrency Stance

The Indian government has two weeks to produce a finalized version of cryptocurrency policies, declares the country’s supreme court.

In April this year, India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) enforced a ban. This prohibited financial institutions from facilitating any crypto-related transactions or offering their services to any business in the industry. This controversial imposition sparked outrage from the local cryptocurrency community, with the supreme court finally hearing their case this week following months of petitions.

Currently, there are no official state-issued policies banning cryptocurrency. However, Nakul Dewan, a counsel for nine crypto exchanges opposing RBI’s ban, said that the RBI has stopped nearly all Bitcoin transaction taking place in India. Evidently, this unclear legal situation has discouraged traders.

Speaking at the court hearing Thursday, Dewan said that with employees and jobs on the line, the government needed to set out a clear policy stance. Thereby, ending the uncertainty caused by RBI’s decision in April.

RBI counsel Shyam Divan defended the bank’s position, saying that it merely has attempted to discourage the use of cryptocurrencies, while the real power for prohibiting them remains with the government. After hearing both cases, the Supreme Court justices told the government it had two weeks to clarify its policy stance.

Responding to the hearing, a team of blockchain-related lawyers working under the platform name Crypto Kanoon posted on Twitter: ”Counsel for Union of India apprised that Committee is going to come up with a report on crypto. Court has directed the Govt. to file Counter Affidavit within 2 weeks.”

Crypto Matter heard today in Court no. 8 as item no. 19.

Counsel for Union of India apprised that Committee is going to come up with a report on Crypto.

Court has directed the Govt. to file Counter Affidavit within 2 weeks.

Matter to be listed after 2 weeks now. #RBI

— Crypto Kanoon (@cryptokanoon) October 25, 2018

The original petition following RBIs decision has over 44,000 signatures to date with a goal of reaching 50,000, calling for the government to reverse the ban.
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