RBI wants govt to ban cryptos: Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Updated on Jul 19, 2022 05:03 AM IST

Currently, cryptocurrencies are unregulated in India and the government is in the midst of consultations to draft a legislation regulating hem. RBI has been apprehensive about cryptocurrencies because of their cryptic nature and absence of any intrinsic value.

Sitharaman said in her February budget speech that the central bank would soon issue its own digital currency.(PTI file photo)
Sitharaman said in her February budget speech that the central bank would soon issue its own digital currency.(PTI file photo)
By, New Delhi

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is in favour of banning cryptocurrencies because it is concerned about their destabilising effect on monetary and fiscal stability.

“In view of the concerns expressed by RBI on the destabilising effect of cryptocurrencies on the monetary and fiscal stability of a country, RBI has recommended for framing of legislation on this sector. RBI is of the view that cryptocurrencies should be prohibited,” she told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a query on this matter.

The finance minister added that effective legislation on this matter is possible only through international collaboration. “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.

Currently, cryptocurrencies are unregulated in India and the government is in the midst of consultations to draft a legislation regulating hem. RBI has been apprehensive about cryptocurrencies because of their cryptic nature and absence of any intrinsic value. The cause of cryptocurrencies hasn’t been helped in India by a slew of so-called crypto exchanges, many playing their business online, and soliciting customers through mass media advertising promising superlative returns — a strategy that helped them rapidly grow their business, even across small towns. The crypto crash of the past few months has served up a dose of reality to customers, at least some of whom do not really understand crypto currencies and saw them as instruments that could generate high returns.

“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,” Sitharaman said.

RBI had also issued a circular in April 6, 2018 prohibiting its regulated entities from dealing in virtual currencies (VCs) or provide services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling VCs, she said. “The said circular has been set aside by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on March 04, 2020,” she added.

RBI on May 31, 2021 also advised its regulated entities, such as banks 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), and obligations under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. This was in addition to ensuring compliance with relevant provisions under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for overseas remittances.

The central bank also registered its concerns over the adverse effect of cryptocurrency on the economy, she said. “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,” she said.

The finance minister said in her February budget speech that the central bank would soon issue its own digital currency.

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