As in many parts of the world, the Indian government has varied reactions to the use of cryptocurrency. However, the general trend since 2018 has been to gradually recognize the legitimacy of cryptos, but to maintain a largely cautious, risk-analysis measure on the part of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Before we look more closely into the legal issue and RBI position, we should understand what cryptocurrencies are and why they have become such a heated topic and attracted wider attention.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is known as digital money, virtual money and digital cash. It is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange, where individual coin ownership is recorded in a digital ledger, known as a blockchain. The technology behind is referred to as blockchain which is secure and immutable. Unlike bank notes or coins, cryptocurrencies are distributed and transferred without the need of a centralized monetary authority. This decentralized system of creation and transfer makes cryptocurrencies resistant to censorship, manipulation or control by external entities.
Is Cryptocurrency Legal in India?
The RBI, India’s central bank and main financial regulator, has set out a number of measures in recent years to limit the adoption and use of cryptocurrency. In April 2018, RBI issued regulatory guidance which prohibits Indian banks and any institution it regulates from dealing with cryptocurrencies in any way.
The Indian government is looking into the potential of introducing its own digital currency. This could be seen as a move towards India officially recognizing the benefits of blockchain technology and embracing a progressive approach towards incorporating digital assets into their economy.
Even after the ban in April 2018, there is still a lot of buzz around cryptocurrencies in India, and the government has taken some steps towards regulating the sector since then. This includes the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech in July 2019, where he stated that the government will work on the introduction of a facilitative framework for the growth of digital currency in India.
What is The Cryptocurrency Bill?
The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, was introduced in the Indian Parliament in March 2021. The Bill seeks to ban all private cryptos in India, and aims to establish a framework for the official digital currency. It sets out to create an enabling environment for the creation of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) official digital currency (DC) called ‘Digital Rupee’. This is intended to provide a stable, secure and efficient digital payment system in India.
The Bill will regulate all digital currencies issued by the government or any other legal entity in India. It also proposes to establish a new regulatory framework for all crypto-asset activities in India, including advice, advising, and trading. This would include a ban on the use of private cryptos for any activities related to payments, investments, or other similar activities.
The bill also proposes that any transaction related to crypto-assets which are not regulated by the RBI will be punishable with a fine or a jail term. The government wants to create a secure and efficient digital payment system in India by means of establishing a framework for the official digital currency.
As such, as India in its many of its regulators have started to look into the possibilities of integrating blockchain technology in particular ways, it is clear that the Indian government largely sees the potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, and is still exploring various dimensions and angles of integrating it into the Indian legislative framework.
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