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India Supreme Court Issues 4-Week Deadline for Crypto Regulation

India Supreme Court Issues 4-Week Deadline for Crypto Regulation

The Supreme Court of India has ordered the Union of India to come up with a regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency industry within four weeks. Failure to do so will prompt the Court to come up with its own judgment. To that effect, it declined to hear any case as regards the industry.

According to news outlet Inc42, “the earliest petitioner in the case (petitioner no. 2) advocate Vijay Pal Dalmia said that with today’s (Feb 25, 2019) hearing, the Court has given one more and last opportunity to the Union of India to bring in a cryptocurrency policy in place”.

The cryptocurrency industry in India has been undefined for a while now, with so many misgivings regarding the position of the government towards blockchain and the underlying digital assets. While the central bank the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made its stance clear about cryptocurrencies, the government was at some point in the process of establishing a government-backed cryptocurrency but later shelved its plans.

Unlike other jurisdictions like China, where a clear stance on cryptocurrency has been declared, the government of India hasn’t provided a clear thought on its stance with respect to cryptocurrencies. Instead, the RBI instructed financial institutions not to provide custody services to crypto-related ventures and have occasionally issued public warnings as regards unregulated digital assets.

Meanwhile, different proponents of the cryptocurrency industry have sought out regulatory clarity from the government and had gone as far as to petition the High Court and the Supreme Court with regards to the RBI circular that prevented banks and payment companies from providing services to customers dealing in cryptocurrency. The government had countered with its own affidavit, explaining the circular as part of its preliminary measures set up by the inter-ministerial committee on cryptocurrency regulation.

The committee had sometime earlier this month expressed its worries about crypto with regards to its national currency, the rupee, stating that it could destabilize the fiat currency in the long term should crypto be accepted as a medium of exchange.

Evidently, the crypto community in India continue to strive for industry inclusion, however, with the constraints in place, it’s hard for the ecosystem to thrive. Nonetheless, it pools resources and efforts towards educating the mass and the respective authorities on the industry to make an informed decision as regards its regulation. Meanwhile, a Right to Information (RTI) report earlier had indicated that the government was also interested in seeking outside legal help on the subject.

Four weeks from today, the crypto regulatory stance in India should be comprehensive and clear enough to know whether the government intends to support the emerging financial revolution or not.


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India Worried Crypto Could Destabilize Rupee

Crypto Could Destabilize Rupee, Says Indian Gov’t Committee

A report by Quartz India suggests that the Indian government is concerned about the effect cryptocurrency may have on its national currency.

According to the article, a high-level panel working on a cryptocurrency regulatory framework has observed that a less-explored area for crypto use does exist and possesses as much risk as with the already established concerns of money laundering and terror financing.

The committee, led by the economic affairs secretary in the ministry of finance Subhas Chandra Garg, has expressed concerns about the impact of cryptocurrency on Indian rupee in the long term should it become a recognized medium of exchange.

“If Bitcoin and other digital currencies are going to be allowed to be used for payments then whether it will end up destabilizing the fiat currency is a major concern for them [the Garg panel],” the post reads, citing an anonymous crypto enthusiast who met with the ministers.

The article has cited another report compiled by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) — of which the Indian central bank is a member — as being the basis for the fears which are further amplified by the uncertainties cryptocurrency may have on the financial ecosystem as a whole as current frameworks are void of an encompassing metric system to account for such scaling effects. More so, the BIS may also be worried that central bank issued digital currencies may also contribute to the instability of the financial system as well.

Perhaps these may be legitimate concerns, as cryptocurrency has so far demonstrated scaling features that could put legacy systems out of commission, and hence affect traditional banks that are unwilling to upgrade. Some forward-thinking financial institutions have begun exploring how to use the blockchain for interbank relations and are considering a digital currency to that effect.

While the banks involved in the transition to blockchain-based systems have stated that the digital currency will be for cross-border payments and would only involve bank-to-bank transactions, the BIS had warned last year that digital coins might destabilize traditional lenders if offered widely to the general public.

The legality of cryptocurrency in India remains flimsy since the committee involved with drafting a regulatory framework have given mixed signals on their stance with digital currencies. At one time, they recommended a ban on cryptocurrency, and later on, warmed up to the idea that “cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal”. With plans to develop its own state-backed cryptocurrency currently on hold, the threats may have indeed been real to the nation.

Rahul Raj, founder of Koinex, has opined that such worries are premature, as nothing of the sort could happen in the near term given that cryptocurrencies are only being used in a very small circle for purchases. But it was further suggested that the concerns can only become of effect if blockchain has scaled to the level of Mastercard and Visa.

Bitcoin News published early today a report on a sample poll survey revealing that in the US, only 3% of people used Bitcoin to make purchases in the past month. This goes further to prove Raj’s point and while the hype about cryptocurrencies is mainly bolstered by the speculative value, the utility aspect of most blockchain products are still a while off from full-scale adoption.


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India Could Be in the Drivers Seat If Legislation Activates Its Huge Bitcoin Potential

First Large-Scale Crypto Jacking Strike in India Targets Conglomerate

The Indian government is under pressure over the cryptocurrency debate. As time moves on, it is becoming hard to see how the government will be able to hold back the inevitable tidal wave of some 2.5 million bitcoin users with its current, rather tired, stance on liberalizing cryptocurrency use amongst the 1.3 billion population.

This week, again, questions were thrown at the Indian Ministry of Finance by India’s Lower House and it appears that the answers due to be forthcoming on December 28th are once more, past their sell-by date. The potential for sensible legislation has been missed once again.

The current stance is familiar to those following India’s cryptocurrency conundrum; If the following response is the result of an informed and well-presented argument by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Central Board of Direct Taxes, then discussions have fallen short of the mark, as the result offers no clarity whatsoever:

“In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise a technically feasible solution, the department is pursuing the matter with due caution. It is difficult to state a specific timeline to come up with clear recommendations.”

To recap, for those who haven’t followed India’s cryptocurrency battle, local crypto traders and investors have been managing with Indian ingenuity. Since the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision last year, Indian traders are adapting as only Indians can do, and are doing it with great success too, with homemade P2P platforms and exchange adaptations using P2P trading.

In the meantime, Dabba has grown from strength to strength, profiting from the RBI ban. Working via the messaging app Telegram, with money as cash routed through the various channels in the hawala system, then passing either officially or unofficially to the foreign account where bitcoins are transacted. Payment is then made in cash or check and the deal is done: no exchange, no Indian bank.

For some exchanges, the RBI ban has had minimal impact for those choosing to announce the return of Indian rupee (INR) deposits, contrary to the government ruling in July, which effectively removed INR deposits and made withdrawals illegal. In India, there is always the potential to circumvent bureaucracy given the inclination and the incentive.

The concept of a national cryptocurrency, a Central Bank issued crypto, has come and gone, and may even return once more. Last April’s enthusiasm has turned again to caution with India’s Central Bank opting for the well-trodden wait and see approach, claiming that the industry is still in its infancy so therefore inappropriately positioned for such a bold move, despite its potential, until perhaps other nations have either succeeded or failed with similar ventures.

How India has resisted abandoning its punitive RBI legislation, given the backdrop of staggering statistics, is quite baffling, and a feat in itself. As one of the world’s largest digital economies, with 2.5 million bitcoin users, discounting all other cryptocurrencies and vibrant crypto black economy resistance seems hopeless, as one government official astutely observed, resistance is finally waning, suggesting that the government is now:

“Recognising the enormous magnitude of coming down hard on cryptocurrency across all 29 states, the research has now forced the hand of the government to align itself with India’s obvious talent in digital technology.”

He added that legislated adoption by India with support from the central bank would have “far-reaching effects throughout the world”: in other words, a waiting room full of international clients who had previously given up on India, expecting total prohibition to be just around the corner, would be first in line to do crypto business in the country.

The client base in India is huge and are more than willing to turn cryptocurrency into Satoshi’s PTP dream. The right words from the present government and the RBI have the potential to kick-start a massive surge of interest in what cryptocurrency can offer across India’s 29 states, and further invigorate an already thriving economy.

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Reserve Bank of India Pulls Back From Central Bank Issued Crypto

Reserve Bank of India Pulls Back From Central Bank Issued Crypto

A news report today by the Hindu BusinessLine revealed that the Reserve Bank of India has shelved its plan to issue a central bank digital currency.

Plans to issue a central bank digital currency was first declared in April of last year. The initial plans may have been driven by the burden of current rising costs in printing paper fiat money. However, it had set up an interdepartmental group to investigate the possibility of a central bank issued and controlled cryptocurrency. Reports were generated on the feasibility to that effect, however, findings have not been made public.

Around the same time, it had already put pressure on the development of cryptocurrency business in the country, cracking down on ICOs, exchanges and the ban on banking services for crypto-related transactions.

According to the news outlet, it quoted an undisclosed source saying “The government doesn’t want the digital currency anymore. It thinks it is too early to even think about a digital currency.” Moreover, they had not received any further response from the RBI about the matter.

The source further reports that the initial attempt to launch the digital currency was to check concerns over black money, money laundering, and cybersecurity threats. It would seem the findings may have expounded on such as the sudden retracting of their decision comes off as a surprise, seeing how some days ago, a report was released suggesting that the committee overseeing cryptocurrency was considering legalizing digital currencies – one would have thought it was a favorable premise to launch the rupee back cryptocurrency.

Further, the source also quoted the founder of cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain start-up Belfrics, Praveen Kumar saying: “It is premature for RBI to launch crypto-rupee, as more understanding of the crypto economy needs to be achieved. It is the right decision to delay the process and see how the publicly traded peer-to-peer economy is shaping up.” It is of the opinion that the crypto space in the country should be given more time to develop while watching how other smaller nations like the UAE and Singapore are adapting to the new technology.

Saudi Arabia had announced last year that its state-managed cryptocurrency will be launched in association with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2019 as a solution for international payments.

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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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First Bitcoin ATM Appears in India Despite Central Bank Crackdown

Despite the central bank’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin in India, the country’s first Bitcoin ATM has been established in Bengaluru’s Kemp Fort Mall.

The ATM is for the exclusive use of local crypto exchange Unocoin’s clients, allowing users to deposit cash or withdraw money for future use on Unocoin’s website or smart device application.

The machines offer a way of circumventing the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) cryptocurrency crackdown, as Unocoin say they do not involve the country’s banking system in any way, hence do not fall under the jurisdiction of the central bank. While Unocoin accepts that standard Bitcoin ATM’s would be banned in the country under RBI guidelines, it believes that because they do not offer banking services technically speaking, its ATMs are exempt.

Some of the harsh restrictions that RBI has established include a prohibition of business relationships between lenders and digital currency exchanges and traders, leading to a decline in trading volumes, local cryptocurrency businesses suffering financially, and a general backlash from the whole, suffering industry in India.

Differing slightly from Bitcoin ATMs seen outside the country, Unocoin hopes to fill the vacuum left by banks retreating from offering crypto businesses and investors financial services. With each user given unique access keys to their account, they cannot purchase assets directly from the machine but need to access the website or app to complete the transaction. Its predominant use is to allow users to deposit their cash for later use on the site.

Right now, the machine can accept cash deposits between INR 1,000 and INR 10,000.

Two more ATMs from Unocoin are scheduled for launch in Mumbai and New Delhi later this week, adding to an overall estimated total of 3,879 cryptocurrency ATMs operating in 76 countries.

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Reserve Bank of India Says Bitcoin Is Not A Currency, Couldn’t Be More Wrong

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has declared that Bitcoin is not a currency in an affidavit to the Indian Supreme Court, during an ongoing legal battle regarding the ban on banks from facilitating any crypto-related activity in India. The Reserve Bank of India is completely wrong.

Specifically, the affidavit says “It is submitted that crypto-currencies fall short of being true currencies. It is further submitted that RBI does not consider virtual currencies such as Bitcoins as ‘currency’ under the extant laws. There are no enabling provisions under the extant law to treat Bitcoin as currency”. The RBI further argues that Bitcoin can’t be a currency because it has no physical form, and aren’t issued by the RBI.

The RBI could not be more wrong. Bitcoin has an excellent track record as a currency, it can be used to buy or sell anything in the world, and transactions sent with Bitcoin are instant and cryptographically secure. Combined with very low fees to send Bitcoin transactions, Bitcoin is actually better than fiat for international finance due to its speed and security. Bitcoin has 99.9% uptime and success when sending transactions, and is very reliable when used as a currency.

The RBI has led a month-long battle to stomp out Bitcoin and crypto in India, and they have succeeded at getting banks to stop offering accounts to crypto exchanges and traders. However, since Bitcoin itself is still legal in India, peer to peer Bitcoin dealing has proliferated across the country. It would probably be best for India to classify and regulate Bitcoin, like most other countries, instead of driving it underground where they have no control over it at all.

In reality, the RBI likely feels threatened by Bitcoin, since it is the first decentralized currency to spread across India, and is rapidly gaining value and use. This is unlike the Indian Rupee (INR), which has been experiencing massive inflation rates. The exchange rate has gone from INR 63 per USD to INR 72 per USD so far during 2018, yielding an annual inflation rate of 19% per year.

This inflation rate is approaching the hyper-inflation threshold, and as seen in other nations like Venezuela and Zimbabwe, once inflation begins increasing to double digits it usually continues to accelerate until ultimately a currency collapse occurs. Right now, the RBI’s biggest problem is the threat of a currency collapse, and they likely think capital outflows into the Bitcoin market will worsen the situation, which is why they are trying to make it illegal.

The collapse of fiat currencies like the INR may be inevitable, and it would be much better for India if Bitcoin stays legal so the country can adopt it over time, so the Indian financial system will still be functional in the event of a fiat collapse.

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P2P Becoming the Indian Way to Trade Crypto Following the Banking Ban

Peer to Peer (P2P) trading is on the march in India due to the country’s banks shutting down crypto services this year.

Since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decision earlier this year, Indian traders are adapting as only Indians can do, and are doing it with great success too, with homemade P2P platforms and exchange adaptations using P2P trading.

Peer-to-Peer trading cuts out the banks completely. Out of this move, a new service KoinLoop has launched such a service, born out of two collaborating exchanges; KoinEX and WazirX. The latter’s CEO argues that his company also has the cheapest BTC price in India, adding:

“If banking is something the exchanges are not allowed to do, then the solution is something that direct banking doesn’t come in.”

As Bitcoin News reported recently Dabba is also taking off as a way of avoiding the RBI ban. Best described as a way of trading through something called a “hawala” network rather any system connected with an exchange, Dabba is becoming increasingly popular. The trading only takes place through an overseas bank account mainly based in the UK, with Dubai another favorite.

Mainly using the messaging app Telegram its use best explained simply thus:

“The broker accepts money in cash, buys Bitcoins using an overseas trading account and sells them when the bet placed in India is settled. The difference is paid in cash to the customer.”

The KoinEX system offers a P2P trading solution called Loop which offers clients access to the trading of BTC, ETH, and XRP. CEO Rahul Raj explains:

“…buyers and sellers on Loop can create their own listings (like a marketplace) or explore existing listings to choose their best trades,” adding, “…while it’s still early days, Loop has been very well received by the Indian trading community and we are seeing increasing traction every day.”

LocalBitcoins have also seen a local boost to trading since the ban with the Indian rupee (INR) volume increasing 25% from around 68 million rupees to 85 million rupees to August. BTC saw a similar hike in trading volumes with a hike of 23% over the same period.

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Reserve Bank of India Clarifies Why It Targeted Crypto

The Reserve Bank of India has finally clarified its position on cryptocurrencies following this year’s crypto banking ban, writes

The clarification has come due to a request by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) following that organization’s submission to India’s Supreme Court contesting the ban.

Apparently, the RBI’s response to the IAMAI won’t go on the public record but it has been reported that the details are primarily concerning illegal activities plus the validity of cryptocurrencies as units of value within the financial system, according to a source who claims to have seen the document.

The suggestion that the document has returned to the RBI’s original concerns regarding money laundering and investor protection has re-ignited anger and frustration among those affected by the banking ban. The central bank announced the ban in April, affecting around five million digital currency users in India.

Many exchange CEOs in India still maintain that the RBI actions were a knee-jerk reaction to a solvable problem. Nischal Shetty, Wazirx exchange chief argued, “Some of the arguments seem to be around investor protection… but investor protection comes with regulation and not a ban!”

The suggested that the response to IAMAI referred back to its original April statement regarding money laundering provoked a range of reactions from the industry including CEO of Belfrics Praveen Kumar who reportedly suggested that:

“By limiting transactions via bank accounts and allowing more cash-related transactions, RBI is allowing more people to get duped… Instead, they need to regulate the exchanges and lay down guidelines that can help prevent these frauds.”

The RBI had also condemned cryptocurrencies in December of 2017 for lacking intrinsic value and concern which was reportedly repeated in the latest response.

A recent statement by an Indian official has even suggested that the ban won’t hold. Talking to news source Quartz, a senior government official is reported to have suggested that the government is simply waiting to implement a “mechanism to be sure that the money used is not illegal money, and to track its source”, suggesting that rather than banning digital currency, the government simply wants to monitor the flow of cryptocurrency, adding that trading is “not a criminal offense”.

This stance seems to indicate that the ban on India’s exchanges dealing with financial institutions may be ready for another twist at some time in the future.


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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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