It’s weird, really weird, how people tend to associate themselves with blockchain but want absolutely nothing to do with cryptocurrencies. Essentially, blockchain is the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies and records every single cryptocurrency transaction on the market. This attitude of “blockchain, not crypto” has been condemned by some, like Coinbase’s CTO, Balaji Srinivasan, saying it’s overrated.
India has been one of the many countries especially in the East who have with open arms received blockchain technology but constantly placed very serious restrictions on cryptocurrencies and crypto transactions. Back in July a ban was passed by the Reserve Bank of India to restrict all crypto-to-fiat transactions on every cryptocurrency platform. Crypto-to-crypto transactions are still permitted in the within the country, but what is the essence of being able to trade several cryptocurrencies but not have them traded into actual fiat currencies. Due to this the number of people trading in cryptocurrencies has greatly decreased. In 2017 the number of people who were entering into crypto trading in India was at a record 300,000 per month, but currently it’s at a shameful 25,000.
Apparently, most cryptocurrency traders have been able to bypass this ban in the country through ATM programs. Unocoin decided to put up a cryptocurrency ATM program to enable cryptocurrency-interested persons to invest in cryptocurrencies with the use of actual bank notes. Unocoin’s CEO has explained to the public that the ATMs are not in violation of any regulations put in place by the Reserve Bank (RBI).
On the contrary, The Times Of India – a local media house – has reported that this claim by Sathyik Vishwanath (Unocoin CEO) is gravely false and that his co-founder, Harish BV, has been arrested by police officers for his involvement in getting the ATM running. The media house alleges that Harish’ arrest was on the grounds of his involvement in the setting up of the crypto ATM which the police authorities see as illegal. The items the Central Crime Branch officials confiscated included a smartphone, three credit and five debit cards, a cryptocurrency hardware device, a couple of laptops, and a teller at the helm of the ATM operation. The CEO’s situation is pretty much intense, but the police say more arrests should be expected.
But like most crypto advocates, Sathyik adamantly says the ATM’s operation is not in violation of any regulations in the country whatsoever. He says
“The [Finance] Minister’s statement was clear: cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry.”
The condition of the arrest in the country is still in high temperatures and no one is really certain as to what next. The more evident effect of this crackdown on crypto operations is the fact that most people interested in investing in crypto both long and short term are seemingly losing their interest in the venture, a thing not so good for the cryptocurrency market and crypto prices in general.
The very same pressure has moved cryptocurrency exchanger, ZebPay to Malta after the Indian ecosystem is proving harsh and unconducive for operations. ZebPay was one of the very reputable crypto exchange platforms in the country, but ever since the ban and it inevitably leading to a downsize in trading volumes which is bad for business, the exchanger has decided to move the island which eventually becoming a safehouse or say a rescue land for cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation. Binance moved to Malta when it was kicked out of China and has made so much remarkable progress in less than a year. This is largely because the government of Malta is in full support of crypto growth and investment on the island. A statement released last month indicated that the exchange was wrapping up its operations in India
“The curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customers’, ability to transact business meaningfully. At this point, we are unable to find a reasonable way to conduct the cryptocurrency exchange business… As a result, we are stopping our exchange activities.”
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