New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday ruled out any immediate action against cryptocurrencies.
Last week, the finance ministry warned against investments in virtual currencies, including bitcoin, and likened them to ponzi schemes as they are not backed by any assets and do not have any intrinsic value.
The warning followed a surge of investments in bitcoin because of a spurt in its price.
At present, both the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) do not regulate virtual currencies.
Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabja, Jaitley said the government was awaiting the report of an experts group that was constituted to look into virtual currencies.
“There are such a large number of cryptocurrencies that are operating globally and they can operate from any part of the world. Therefore, rather than taking any knee-jerk action immediately, we are awaiting the report. Once the report comes, only then we will take the measured steps that are required,” he said.
The government constituted the committee, comprising officials of the finance ministry, home ministry and RBI, among others, last year and tasked it with finding ways to deal with virtual currencies and address issues relating to money-laundering and consumer protection.
Last month, the income tax department conducted a survey of bitcoin exchanges across India to secure information about transactions, parties involved and bank accounts used.
Created in 2009, bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency and has the largest market cap currently.
According to coinmarketcap.com, the current market cap of bitcoin stands at $231 billion. The price of bitcoin is currently around $13,800, as against $1,100 a year ago.
The price of bitcoin crossed $17,000 in December.