Cryptocurrency: RBI seeks ban, but India needs global support to regulate it, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that cryptocurrencies are by definition borderless and require international collaboration to prevent regulatory arbitrage 

Updated14 Dec 2022, 03:57 PM IST
 Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
;Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.(PTI)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recommended to the government that it should frame regulations for cryptocurrencies.  The Indian government wants an international collaboration if such a ban has to be put into effect, said Sitharaman. 

Addressing queries related to cryptocurrency in the Lok Sabha today, the Finance Minister said that RBI has recommended for framing of legislation on this sector. RBI is of the view that cryptocurrencies should be prohibited. She went on to add that cryptocurrencies are by definition borderless and require international collaboration to prevent regulatory arbitrage. “Therefore any legislation for regulation or for banning can be effective only after significant international collaboration on evaluation of the risks and benefits and evolution of common taxonomy and standards,” she said.

To a question, whether RBI has issued instructions, circulars, directions, warnings etc. regarding restricting the issuance, buying, selling, holding and circulation of Cryptocurrency in India during the last ten years, the Finance Minister replied, “RBI has been cautioning users, holders and traders of Virtual Currencies (VCs) vide public notices on December 24, 2013, February 01, 2017 and December 05, 2017 that dealing in VCs is associated with potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks. RBI had also issued a circular in April 6, 2018 prohibiting its regulated entities to deal in virtual currencies (VCs) or provide services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling VCs.”

She added that RBI, with its circular dated May 31, 2021 has also advised its regulated entities to continue to carry out customer due diligence processes for transactions in VCs, in line with regulations governing standards for Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT), obligations under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, etc. in addition to ensuring compliance with relevant provisions under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for overseas remittances.

“RBI mentioned that cryptocurrencies are not a currency because every modern currency needs to be issued by the Central Bank / Government. Further, the value of fiat currencies is anchored by monetary policy and their status as legal tender, however the value of cryptocurrencies rests solely on the speculations and expectations of high returns that are not well anchored, so it will have a de-stabilising effect on the monetary and fiscal stability of a country,” sheadded while speaking at the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

The central bank has time and again pointed out problem with digital assets. Terming cryptocurrencies a “clear danger", RBI governor Shaktikanta Das in RBI's annual report said that anything that derives value based on make-believe, “without any underlying", is just speculation under a sophisticated name.

Meanwhile, the government announced tax on gains from virtual assets. The 30% tax rate on virtual currency assets has come into effect from April 1 and the latest addition was 1% TDS from July 1 this year. This has impacted trading volumes on cryptocurrency exchanges in India.

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First Published:14 Dec 2022, 03:57 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaCryptocurrency: RBI seeks ban, but India needs global support to regulate it, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

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