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India’s Union Budget Proposed – No Hints Of Prohibiting Cryptocurrency (Yet)

India’s budget session has commenced, but there appears to be no word on the much-discussed crypto ban so far.

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has granted Union Budget 2021-22 now, as was confirmed by the Ministry of Finance‘s website. The Ministry offers the text of Sitharaman’s speech and several other documents – but what seems to be missing is the anticipated crypto bill.

That said, this news is still developing.

This was a highly anticipated session as reported during a January 29 bulletin; the so-called ‘The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021’ was slated for “introduction, consideration, and passing.” This was, nevertheless, a conditional list.

The bulleting claims that the Bill “seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, however, it allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.” It does not define “private cryptocurrencies,” though, nor does it stipulate their exceptions. Based on the contents, it could be considered that the Bill would allow exceptions to promote blockchain.

Moreover, the Bill seeks to “create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.”

There appears to be no remark of cryptocurrencies at the moment of writing, no information about a crypto Bill or banning any digital currency, nor about the potential central bank digital currency (CBDC). The Ministry did not reply to a request for comment by publishing time.

The Cryptoverse has started reacting to the news, but they, too, don’t have enough information to go on yet.

Co-founder and CEO of crypto exchange Unocoin, Sathvik Vishwanath, tweeted that the Bill was determined to discuss crypto regulations in India to begin. “But [the government] has [a lot] to lose if they stick with the same argument [of the ban],” he stated, continuing that it’s “unlikely [the government] could see the long term prospect yet before an active dialogue with the industry players and stake holders.

Co-founder and CEO of crypto exchange WazirX, Nischal Shetty, shared an open letter addressed to the Government, writing that he’s “optimistic that the government is not going to simply ban crypto.” He also said that the hashtag ‘IndiaWantsCrypto’ is trending in the country.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency policy advisor Tanvi Ratna further stated that the “private” in the Bill means “not public, i.e., not issued by the government.”

And while some consider there wouldn’t be an absolute ban anyway, others argue that the Bill could be introduced in the coming months even if not discussed today.

In March of last year, the Supreme Court overruled the central bank’s ban on cryptocurrency, allowing banks to manage cryptocurrency transactions from exchanges and traders. However, rumors of a new ban have plagued the country since.

Meantime, the Minister noted a diverse increase in digital payments, saying that: “To give a further boost to digital transactions, I earmark Rs 1,500 crore for a proposed scheme that will provide financial incentive to promote a digital mode of payment.” 

According to the Economic Times, the industry considers this move will drive e-payments in smaller cities and boost innovation by fintech firms.

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