Imagine using bitcoin, Ethereum or any of your favorite cryptocurrencies to purchase goods and services. Picture yourself investing in these coins, trading them, and building a solid nest egg with them. Now, imagine yourself stuck in a prison cell for engaging in this behavior.
Crypto Use in India = Jail Time?
Sadly, this is a route that India is considering, according to a new report. The country is considering a ten-year prison sentence for all those who engage in crypto-related behavior, whether it’s trading coins, selling them, or using them to buy things from online retailers.
India’s relationship with cryptocurrencies has consistently been up and down. In 2017, the nation’s Reserve Bank decided that all banks would no longer be able to engage in business with cryptocurrency enterprises, meaning several new exchanges and similar companies could not get access to loans, funds or solid credit.
Since then, India has sought new ways to keep cryptocurrencies out of the financial midst and turn people away from using them. Now, in a new bill entitled “Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019,” India is laying down the law when it comes to digital asset usage and is debating on whether prison time is necessary to ensure its citizens get the message.
The bill was first introduced in 2017 following the restrictions placed on smaller or local banks but has not been taken seriously until now. Apparently, India is still of the mentality that cryptocurrencies are tools for malicious or wrongful activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, drug purchases and terrorist funding. Hence, regulators are not comfortable with crypto holding a prominent place within its financial space.
At the same time, while the bill is garnering support from several agencies within India such as the Income Tax Department and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), other entities, such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) denies “all knowledge” of the report, claiming it knows nothing of its existence. In addition, several analysts predict that even if the bill were to go into effect in the coming years, it would have little to no impact on cryptocurrency activity in India.
What Can We Expect from Such a Ban?
CEO of “multiple crypto-based currencies” Vishal Gupta comments that it’s “premature” to “come to a conclusion” on the matter. Clearly, with several coins under his management belt, Gupta has a lot to lose if the ban does go into effect, but he’s confident banking authorities will see things more clearly.
What’s strange is that the bill seeks to introduce a national cryptocurrency, known as the “digital rupee.” Perhaps India isn’t so much against cryptocurrencies as it is edging out all the competition, so its own currency can gain the front position.