Union Budget 2018: Bitcoin Is Officially Illegal In India

Union Budget 2018: Bitcoin Is Officially Illegal In India

Just last week, Japan-based digital exchange Coincheck suffered a major cyber breach and lost more than $530 million in NEM, the 10th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation.

The government does not consider cryptocurrency as legal and will take all measures against its illegal use, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the Union Budget 2018.

Malaysia-based Belfrics had launched its bitcoin exchange in India a year ago and Vijaykumar had told THE WEEK recently that it has stopped taking any fresh deposits from India, in the wake of the regulatory uncertainty. This is in light of Indian banks removing payment support for these exchanges making it hard to convert fiat money into cryptocurrencies. Instead, he reinforced Indian government's commitment and push for blockchain technology. "However, the government will look at the utilisation of Blockchain (a distributed digital technology that supports crypto currencies)", Jaitley said in his Budget speech in Parliament.

In his budget speech on Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reiterated the government's earlier stand that it was not a legal tender in India and went a step ahead in stating steps would be taken to eliminate it.

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During the run-up to the budget, there have been talks that the government could come out with a roadmap to regulate the cryptocurrency market.

"Regulating exchanges is (the government)'s immediate task", Kim said. One of the key apprehensions has been that these cryptocurrencies could dent the government's efforts against the black money. "The price of bitcoin and other VCs therefore is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices", the finance ministry said last month. "However, banning cryptocurrency will not necessarily mean the stop of trading activity around it".

"News about India potentially cracking down on cryptocurrencies added to an already bad week in terms of headlines", said Andrew Se, cryptocurrency trader and co-founder of research website Cryptoprofile.com. "Speaking with investors, they are comfortable that now we have some regulatory framework around this".

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