Bill Could See Securities and Exchange Board of India Regulate Crypto in India

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In Brief
  • Authorities in India are considering putting cryptocurrencies under the remit of the country’s financial regulator.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government plans to introduce this legislation in its ongoing winter session of parliament.

  • Revisions to and renewed enthusiasm for the bill occurred following several high-profile government meetings.

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Authorities in India are considering putting cryptocurrencies under the remit of the country’s financial regulator. 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) potentially filling this instrumental role was just one of several details revealed by anonymous Bloomberg sources about the Indian Parliament’s forthcoming cryptocurrency bill. Other details revealed include notable omissions. For instance, instead of referring to ‘cryptocurrencies,’ the bill will likely use the term ‘cryptoassets.’ Additionally, the central bank’s plan for a digital currency is not likely to be mentioned. 

Earlier reports indicated that the government is also considering imposing a minimum threshold to invest in crypto for consumer protection. The bill is likely to give crypto holders a deadline to meet any new standards and declare their assets. It also stipulates that any violators be fined as much as 200 million rupees ($2.7 million) or face 1.5 years of imprisonment. 

Crypto in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government plans to introduce this legislation in its ongoing winter session of parliament, which commenced on November 29 and will end on December 23. Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the earlier bill which had proposed banning all private cryptocurrencies had been reworked in light of developments. She also said that the country had no proposal to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, such as in El Salvador.

Revisions to and renewed enthusiasm for the bill occurred following several high-profile government meetings. Last month, Modi led a review meeting on digital currency, ultimately deciding to continue proactively engaging with the industry. This was followed by the first meeting between representatives of India’s cryptocurrency industry and an Indian government authority, namely the India’s Parliamentary Committee on Finance.

Although there is no official data regarding the total number of people holding cryptocurrency in India, industry estimates put the figure somewhere between 15 and 20 million, whose total crypto holdings amount to around 400 billion rupees. October data from Chainalysis indicates that through June 2021, the crypto market in India grew 641% year-on-year.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.

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