In the long list of crypto FUDs in India, the most recent one about a 10 year jail sentence was perhaps what caused the most unrest. The news piece that carried it craftily shared a portion of a bill obtained from an unverified source, which stated that any activity pertaining to cryptocurrencies in India is illegal, and would result in a 10 year prison sentence for the defaulter.
This was the first article we wrote on TechMerge and we posed questions on the authenticity of the source. Earlier this week, the entire document was released by Blockchain Lawyer, Varun Sethi, and lo and behold, the entire document stated that the creator of the draft was considering a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in India.
We at TechMerge let it slide, given that this was an inauthentic piece of literature and we didn’t want to give it any more attention. But the Indian crypto news scene rushed into reporting this inauthentic piece. While some reported this responsibly, there were others that considered the contents of the draft as a finality, and FUD spread again, and it ended up with this –
People behaving badly! India’s government banned Bitcoin, a currency providing great hope for prosperity in a country that desperately needs it. Shame on India leadership. Pathetic and corrupt. #India #bitcoin— Tim Draper (@TimDraper) 17 July 2019
Clearly the Media FUD had caught up to the man himself and we think there is perhaps a warranted a general listing of facts for you to counter anyone who says crypto is banned in India –
Fact 1 – The proposed ban is from a bill that is a very, very rough draft at best
Crypto Kanoon perhaps put it in the best way possible. In a recent interview he told Bitcoin.com, “This document cannot be claimed as the final recommendation of the expert committee to the Ministry of Finance. The document contains no mark of authentication on it nor it has come out from any official source.”
A part of the elaborate definition of cryptocurrencies in the paper said that it includes any information, or code or number or token, that is generated through cryptographic means. Legally, this could include speech patterns and encoded messages among friends and colleagues. Clearly the person writing this hasn’t put in too much thought into defining crypto, let alone research other, more mature definitions of crypto from other sources.
Interesting tidbit – it’s alleged that this document was drafted back in January 2019.
Fact 2 – The Indian government has stated its official stance – And there’s no ban in the near future
Anuragh Thakur, the current Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs at the lower house of the Indian parliament answered the following question with regard to the issue of cryptocurrencies in India –
Q – Will the Minister of Corporate Affairs be pleased to state: (a) whether the government has any proposal to ban cryptocurrency in India,
A (excerpts) – “The issue of permitting trading in cryptocurrencies is currently under examination.. In absence of a globally acceptable solution and the need to devise 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.”
In all honesty, I hope the government takes as much time as it needs to come up with a regulatory framework. But more importantly, there is no word about an impending ban.
Fact 3 – India committed to implementing FATF guidelines for crypto
At the recently concluded G20 summit, Prime Minister Modi, along with the rest of the G20 countries committed to adhere to the FATF guidelines set for crypto. These guidelines provide an exhaustive list of methods and recommendations to regulate cryptocurrencies. India’s finance minster had also committed to doing the same at the same conference.
The declaration said – “We, the leaders of the G20, met in Osaka, Japan on 28-29 June 2019 to make united efforts to address major global economic challenges … We reaffirm our commitment to applying the recently amended FATF standards to virtual assets and related providers for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.”
Again – no sign of a ban; only regulation.
Interestingly, the G20 summit happened in Japan, a country that has legalised the use of cryptocurrency as a mode of payment.
Now, there is a supreme court hearing on the 23rd of July, challenging the RBI’s banking ban on crypto entities. Going by past history, it doesn’t seem like there will be a resolution to this until there is a proper regulatory framework.
Until then, show these 3 facts to anyone who says bitcoin is banned in India.