Indian flag with bitcoin and blockchain

India to explore blockchain, Bitcoin still not legal tender: finance minister

India’s digital future could be built on the blockchain, according to the country’s Finance Minister. Speaking during a recent parliament session, Minister Anurag Singh Thakur clarified the government’s position on blockchain technology, the development of a digital rupee and the use of digital currencies in the South Asian country.

The minister was addressing the upper house of India’s parliament, better known as Rajya Sabha. When asked whether the government was aware that several businesses are using digital currencies for international transactions, he offered a brief response, “No sir.”

On whether the government is considering developing a digital rupee, the Minister also clarified that such plans are not yet underway. This is despite a recent government agenda in the lower house of Parliament that indicated the government is considering a CBDC. The agenda purportedly seeks to “create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency.” The Reserve Bank of India would be in charge of the development and distribution of this digital currency.

Minister Thakur further clarified that the Indian government still considers digital currency payments illegal, saying, “It was announced in the Budget Speech of year 2018-19 that the Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coins and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.”

Nevertheless, the Indian government still sees value in blockchain technology, he said. “The government will explore use of the block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy,” he told the legislators.

This is keeping in line with the government agenda in the lower house which acknowledged that there’s value in blockchain technology. The government intends to “allow for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.”

Many experts believe that the Minister’s remarks indicate the government doesn’t intend on banning Bitcoin.

Commenting on the Minister’s responses, the founder of WazirX exchange Nischal Shetty stated:

“These answers by Thakur go to show that government is focused on curbing illegal activities & payment systems. This clears more confusion that there won’t be a complete ban on crypto. Let’s keep our campaign going for positive crypto regulations.”

Shetty added that his positive outlook is also partly informed by the amount of money at stake if the government bans digital currencies. “No government will destroy Rs 7,500+ crore ($1 billion) worth of assets belonging to 7 million people.”

Unocoin exchange CEO Sathvik Vishwanath was just as positive that the government won’t ban digital currencies. He called on regulators to formulate enabling regulations, stating that “there is an opportunity for everyone to win. This is not a zero sum game.”

See also: CoinGeek Live panel, Digital Currency & Global Compliance: Tools & Tips for Exchanges, Wallets & Other Service Providers

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