India will not ban cryptocurrency, but will investigate imposing new regs

After statements by Indian finance minister, Arun Jaitley, last week the Indian government asserts that it will investigate more cryptocurrency regulation as opposed to an outright ban. 

Last week, following multiple warnings attempting to deter investors from entering the crypto market, Jaitley used his budget speech to promise a crackdown on the use of cryptocurrencies for “illegitimate activities” in the country – before pointing out that that India doesn’t consider it to be legal tender, or an acceptable method of payment.

His comments led to quite a bit of speculation that the country, which played a large part of the late-2017 boom in cryptocurrency trade, was planning an outright ban on trading in currency, while others – ourselves included – concluded that his comments seemed in line with existing policy, and more likely to mean increased regulation and oversight.

Now, we are beginning to see exactly what Mr. Jaitley’s statements mean in the real world, with reports from Reuters of comments from the country’s Economic Affairs Secretary, S.C. Garg. They regard an investigative panel – which he will chair – that will report to the wider government on cryptocurrency matters at the end of March this year. According to the report – which quotes Mr. Garg’s comments in a TV interview – the secretary confirmed that “The government will take steps to make [cryptocurrency] illegal as a payment system,” and that “certainly there will be a regulator” to oversee, among other things, the trading of “crypto assets” at currently unregulated exchanges.

The deadline for the panel’s report corresponds to the end of the Indian financial year, and will go a long way to determining exactly what new rules its government intends to propose for the following twelve months.