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Reliance Jio plans its own cryptocurrency JioCoin, Akash Ambani leading project

Reliance Jio plans to build a 50-member team led by Akash Ambani to work on blockchain technology that is used for creating cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

business Updated: Jan 12, 2018 16:33 IST
Navadha Pandey
Akash Ambani, the son of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, during a post-wedding party thrown by cricketer Zaheer Khan and actress Sagarika Ghatge in Mumbai on November 23, 2017.
Akash Ambani, the son of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, during a post-wedding party thrown by cricketer Zaheer Khan and actress Sagarika Ghatge in Mumbai on November 23, 2017. (IANS FILE)

After disrupting the telecom sector with its free offers and hyper-competitive tariffs, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd plans to create its own cyptocurrency, JioCoin.

With Mukesh Ambani’s elder son Akash Ambani leading the JioCoin project, Reliance Jio plans to build a 50-member team of young professionals to work on blockchain technology, which can also be used to develop applications such as smart contracts and supply chain management logistics.

“The company plans to hire 50 young professionals with average age of 25 years for Akash Ambani to lead. There are multiple applications of blockchain (for the company). The team would work on various blockchain products,” a person familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

Blockchain is a digital ledger for storing data including, but not limited to, financial transactions. In simple terms, blockchain decentralizes information without it being copied. The information is held on blockchain through a shared database which can be accessed on a real-time basis. This database is not stored on physical servers but on the cloud, which makes it easy to store unlimited data.

The most popular application of the technology has undoubtedly been cryptocurrency, and Reliance Jio also plans to create its own version called JioCoin.

“One (application) is cryptocurrency. We can deploy smart contracts. It can be used in supply chain management logistics. Loyalty points could altogether be based on JioCoin,” the person cited above said, adding that all of this was “in proposal stage”.

An email sent to Reliance Jio seeking a response remained unanswered till press time.

“Reliance Jio also aspires to get into Internet of Things (IoT). Blockchain technology would come in handy there,” the person said.

IoT is a network of devices such as smartphones, wearable devices, home appliances and vehicles, connected to the internet, which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. Experts have also pointed out that blockchain could potentially address security risks to IoT as it provides a shield against data tampering by labelling each block of data.

Significantly, the Indian government has cautioned against cryptocurrencies, stating that virtual currencies were not backed by assets and posed risks such as money laundering. On 2 January, finance minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that the government was still studying the issue.

“A committee under the chairmanship of secretary, department of economic affairs, is deliberating over all issues related to cryptocurrencies to propose specific actions to be taken,” Jaitley said, adding that the government does not consider cryptocurrencies to be legal tender.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have come under the scanner of governments across the world as their soaring prices attracted speculators and unsophisticated retail investors in droves. On Thursday, Bitcoin dropped as much as 12% to $12,801, its lowest since Christmas day, as South Korea’s justice minister reiterated his proposal to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, Bloomberg reported.