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India Rich in Crypto Skills Despite Government Hard Line

A recent study in India by HR company Belong has revealed that over 5000 Indian software developers have the necessary skills to work on blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, reports Inside Bitcoins.

The study claims that out of an estimated two million software developers, 0.25% of them have the skills required for blockchain development and cryptocurrencies, such as data science, algorithms, and cryptography.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently mandated any financial institutions and banks that fall within its regulatory jurisdiction to terminate any association with individuals or businesses dealing with virtual currencies. Although the mandate will dissuade many crypto investors, there are still channels open for traders and investors to circumvent the system.

Despite this, there are still a number of companies looking to move into the cryptocurrency space. Belong co-founder Rishabh Kaul suggests that India does have the potential to train another 10,000 developers with prior fintech experience, although he suggests another 30,000 would still need extensive training or refining of current skills. The local cryptocurrency market has been rapidly growing, with investor numbers reaching 5m and bitcoin investments in India approaching $2bn.

Adversely, Market Mogul reported recently the difficulties that new and existing cryptocurrency companies may face, apart from lacking qualified staff, due to the government’s recent tough stance on virtual currency. Investors in India will no longer be able to go through established financial institutions to transfer money from their bank to a crypto wallet. This is seen by some as part of a move by the government to eliminate cryptocurrencies from the investment space altogether.

Cryptocurrency in India has had to endure government criticism from very early on. The country’s finance minister has warned that it can never become legal tender, and India’s Central Bank has continued to caution users, suggesting cryptocurrency’s price volatility can cause financial instability.

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Crypto Exchanges Challenge India’s Banking Restrictions in Supreme Court

Four more exchange platforms have challenged Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) prohibition of facilitating Bitcoin and other digital currencies transactions.

This is the third and most significant challenge yet to the ban that has seen banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges entirely blocked off. The platforms that filed the case include Coindelta Exchange, Koinex ExchangeThroughbit Exchange and CoinDCX.

As reported by Mohammed Danish, a practising lawyer at the High Court of Delhi in India, the case has been filled as a Writ Petition (Civil) no. 373 of 2018 under Article 32 of the Constitution, challenging the constitutional validity of RBI’s case.

The new policies adversely affect the business interests of exchanges and start-ups; the first two Writ Petitions came from two such entities that are seeking to protect the right to carry on trade, and rights to equality that are guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.

The initial two Writ Petitions filed in public interest with the Supreme Court are still pending, but will decide the legal status of cryptocurrencies in India. They are representative of the enormous public outcry against RBI’s dictum, as the population of India is well known for being both highly aware and active in the cryptocurrency market. It was reported by Finance Magnets in January this year that India was responsible for 10% of all Bitcoin transactions worldwide.

All three of the Writ Petitions are likely to be heard in Court on 11 May 2018.

The initial restrictions to crypto services

Last month on 6 April, RBI officially directed regulated banks and payment platforms to no longer provide services to cryptocurrency operations, effective immediately. The reasoning from RBI behind this move cited digital currencies as ”[coming] with associated risks‘, following the restrictions from HDFC and Citibank both restricting clients from purchasing Bitcoin via their debit and credit cards.

The initial statement from RBI reads: ”Such services include maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans against virtual tokens, accepting them as collateral, opening accounts of exchanges dealing with them and transfer/receipt of money in accounts relating to purchase/ sale of VCs.”

 

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Pakistan Central Bank Curbs Crypto

Pakistan’s State Bank (SBP) has issued a statement which confirms that financial companies are now barred from working with cryptocurrency firms in the country.

The SBP website’s statement confirmed that all banks in Pakistan “are advised to refrain from processing, using, trading, holding, transferring value, promoting and investing in virtual currencies or tokens… any transaction in this regard shall immediately be reported to the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) as a suspicious transaction”.

Pakistan’s FMU sees its goals as developing a strong reporting culture amongst financial institutions, making a contribution towards fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. It also sees itself as a recognized model of financial intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination in Pakistan.

In the wake of this announcement, there has already been an impact on the industry in Pakistan. Urdubit, an exchange which was first launched in 2014, has shut down. Users attempting to access the platform today will be greeted with a screen message, “Urdubit is Shutting Down”, warning its users to withdraw their funds “as quickly as possible” due to a “State Bank of Pakistan prohibition on dealing with virtual currencies”.

Rodrigo Souza, co-founder of BlinkTrade, the provider of Urdubit’s open source software, suggests that governments and banks will fight Bitcoin due to a potential run on the central bank.

The news of Pakistan’s curb on cryptocurrency trading comes just a day after India’s announcement on Thursday that The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was now strictly prohibiting all banks and regulated financial entities in dealing with cryptocurrencies. On the news of India’s announcement, the price of Bitcoin plummeted to a low of 350,000 Pakistani Rupees  (USD 5,392) against its international market price of USD 6,617 according to cryptocurrency exchange Coinome.

Following yesterday’s ban the Pakistani government has indicated that those using cryptocurrencies to transfer funds outside Pakistan could be prosecuted. The SBP declared “no entity is currently licensed or authorized by SBP  to offer money remittance services and products in Pakistan using virtual currencies/coins/tokens”.

 

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Mumbai Mirror – Bitcoin Arrives

Mumbai Mirror – Bitcoin Arrives:

Ankit Ajmera (@TvventyOne)’s article, published in the Mumbai Mirror, describes Bitcoin’s presence in India. Excerpts:

The Reserve Bank of India, for instance, has not yet formulated regulations to govern trading or profits generated from Bitcoins.”

The only time Bitcoins will come under the purview of law is if a case of fraud is reported, following which cops can then initiate action against the fraudulent party.”

There have been an estimated 29,400 downloads of Bitcoin wallets from Indian IP addresses. There’s the possibility that one person has downloaded more than one wallet.”

 – http://bit.ly/19NOOZ9
 – http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=304384.0 (Further discussion of the article)

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Jonathan Stacke – Bitcoin in India

Jonathan Stacke – Bitcoin in India:

Jonathan Stacke writes on Bitcoin in India for his latest article on The Genesis Block (@TheGenesisBlock). Excerpts:

“With talk of inflation and capital controls familiar to the bitcoin community, one might think Indian citizens would be jumping at the opportunity to adopt the digital currency, yet the hurdles to wide-scale bitcoin proliferation in India may be significant for the foreseeable future. While demand for gold has grown in India, the multiple applications it offers culturally and industrially in addition to acting as an alternative store of wealth may mean that such demand does not translate to bitcoin.”

“[A correlation exists] between bitcoin adoption and internet penetration in a given country. India, with just 12.6% of its citizens having internet access, has the sixth lowest internet penetration of the 100 largest countries. Despite that fact, the size of the total Indian population – more than 1.2 billion – makes India the third largest internet-using population in the world, with 150 million users, behind only China and the US.”

“It is possible to buy and sell bitcoin through a number of websites including buysellbitco.in and there does appear to be a healthy LocalBitcoins market.”

“Not to be overlooked is India’s mobile phone penetration of 71%, or approximately 900 million total users. […] only 44 million Indians are smartphone subscribers.”

“M-PESA, the mobile payment system that has changed the lives of millions in Kenya recently rolled out in India. […] If mobile payment systems like these gain traction in India as they have in Africa, acceptance of digital currency would prove to be a less significant hurdle.”

“India had the highest remittance volume in the world in 2011 with $58 billion, or 3.1% of GDP, according to the World Bank.”

“Forward-thinking companies like Buttercoin have recently stepped in to apply the potential of bitcoin to these markets […]”

“The Reserve Bank of India has stated that it does not immediately intend to regulate bitcoin, but their historic actions indicate that may change soon enough […]”

 – http://thegenesisblock.com/bitcoin-in-india-drivers-and-barriers-to-adoption
 – (Further discussion of this article)

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