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A cryptocurrency exchange executive on Saturday lauded the digital currency bill proposed by Indian government while asking what the bill means by “private cryptocurrencies".

“The digital currency bill to be introduced before the Lok Sabha is a welcome step forward. Its success will depend on the details, particularly the definition of what the bill calls “private cryptocurrencies". This is not a common term. Bitcoin is not privately owned by anyone. It is a public good, like the internet," said Rahul Pagidipati, ZebPay CEO.

The law will "create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)," said the agenda, published on the Lok Sabha website on Friday.

The legislation, listed for debate in the current parliamentary session, seeks "to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, however, it allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses", the agenda said.

"Bitcoin and most crypto assets are more like gold and not an alternative to government-issued legal tender. Crypto assets and digital government currency can co-exist and together, they can bring tremendous benefits to the Indian economy," said Pagidipati.

"We hope the Lok Sabha members and advisors will consult crypto and blockchain companies as they make their decisions. Millions of Indians have already invested in this new asset class. Millions more want the same opportunity to build wealth that investors in other countries already have. We have faith in the government and hope that this bill will move India forwards, not backwards," he further said.

In a Twitter thread, ZebPay said, "First of all, ZebPay will advocate with respect and honesty for as long as it takes to give every Indian the chance to be part of the coming digital economy, equal to citizens of other countries... We know for sure that the government is committed to making India a global leader in innovation. We have faith that the final law will move India further towards that goal."

In mid-2019, an Indian government panel recommended banning all private cryptocurrencies, with a jail term of up to 10 years and heavy fines for anyone dealing in digital currencies.

The panel has, however, asked the government to consider the launch of an official government-backed digital currency in India, to function like bank notes, through the Reserve Bank of India.

The RBI had in April 2018 ordered financial institutions to break off all ties with individuals or businesses dealing in virtual currency such as bitcoin within three months.

However, in March 2020, Supreme Court allowed banks to handle cryptocurrency transactions from exchanges and traders, overturning a central bank ban had that dealt the thriving industry a major blow.

Governments around the world have been looking into ways to regulate cryptocurrencies but no major economy has taken the drastic step of placing a blanket ban on owning them, even though concern has been raised about the misuse of consumer data and its possible impact on the financial system.

With Reuters inputs

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