Business & Economy

India not shutting all options on cryptocurrency, minister says

New Delhi, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- The Indian government has said that it plans to regulate and allow a “certain window” for the use of cryptocurrency and stop short of imposing a complete ban, signaling a changing approach after initially aiming to criminalize the use of virtual money.

“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting off all options,” Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a conclave organized over the weekend by the India Today magazine, according to an article published by the outlet on Monday.

The minister said that the government had almost finished a cabinet note on cryptocurrency and the regulation of official digital currency, which will “allow a certain amount of window for people to experiment on blockchain and bitcoin.”

Although Indian authorities have repeatedly expressed interest in the use of blockchain technology to carry instant money transfers, both the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – India’s central bank – have taken a conservative approach over cryptocurrencies, including the most popular Bitcoin.

In 2018 Arun Jaitley, the finance minister at the time, had announced the government’s plans to ban the use of cryptocurrencies for payment in the country over concerns that they could be used for money laundering.

The same year, the RBI – which insists that virtual money is dangerous due to its high volatility and the capacity to destabilize Indian markets – ordered banks and other financial entities it regulates to stop accepting or facilitating the use of cryptocurrencies.

In 2019 the government had prepared a draft bill to ban digital currencies with prison sentences of up to 10 years for possession, use or trade of cryptocurrencies, after a committee established by the finance ministry recommended a ban.

However, in May 2020 the Supreme Court of India held that the RBI’s blocking of cryptocurrency was illegal and urged the government to regulate this “grey area” of Indian legislation. EFE-EPA


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