Indian Government Looks to Ban Cryptocurrency Trading With New Law

India is not new when it comes to harsh and unfriendly cryptocurrency laws. Now, Bloomberg reports that the country is set to introduce a new law which will ban cryptocurrency trading within its borders.

Citing anonymous sources, the report states that India’s federal cabinet is set to discuss the bill prior to being sent to the parliament.

The report states that the Indian government will continue encouraging and supporting the growth of blockchain technology but will discourage crypto trading.

In 2018, Indian central bank instituted a ban on all crypto transactions following numerous cases of frauds prior to the sudden decision to ban about 80% of the country’s currency by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the decision was rescinded in March this year after a successful filing of a suit in the Supreme Court by various crypto-based firms operating in the country.

The lifting of the ban saw almost a 450% increase in crypto trading in just two months from March. Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace, registered a staggering 883% growth from January to May this year representing a growth from $2.2 million to about $22.1 million in revenues. Similarly, India’s largest crypto exchange WazirX registered a growth of 400% and 270% in March and April respectively.

The renewed effort to ban crypto trading comes at a time when the Indian Parliament has reopened following a prolonged break due to COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is likely to be introduced to parliament in this monsoon session which kicked off yesterday and is set to affect over 1.7 million Indians who actively trade in digital assets as well as institutions coming up with platforms to ease crypto trading.

Today’s report appears to be in tandem with June’s news where the nation’s finance ministry was reportedly urging for inter-ministerial consultations on how to ban crypto.

In the recent past, India’s federal government has been exploring possible ways of using blockchain technology to enhance service delivery in different sectors like management of land records, enhancement of pharmaceutical drugs supply chains, management of educational certificates, among others but remains adamant against crypto trading.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

India’s Largest Crypto Exchange WazirX Partners With Matic Network To Develop A DeFi Product

  • The largest crypto exchange firm in India, WazirX which is based in Mumbai, has announced it has partnered with Matic Network to develop a DeFi product.
  • WazirX revealed that it will launch an automated market maker which is a DeFi protocol on top of Matic Network.

WazirX, which is owned by Binance, is set to introduce an AMM DEX which will allow users to easily swap crypto assets in a decentralized way and at the same time earn fees through provision of liquidity.

In a blog post, WazirX explained that it chose to develop the AMM DEX on Matic Network so as to bypass the performance bottlenecks within the DeFi space through high-speed as well as low-fee infrastructure.

The partnership was inspired by the recent growth in trading volumes of AMM-based DEXs such as Uniswap. DEXs allow running of openly accessible chain liquidity pools for various tokens. WazirX explained:

“The DeFi movement has picked up globally and WazirX plans to make it easy for billions of Indians to participate in the DeFi ecosystem.”

However, the Mumbai-based exchange has chosen Matic rather than Ethereum which is at the moment the market leader in the DeFi sector. WazirX CEO, Nischal Shetty, explained that high transaction fees as well as scalability within the Ethereum network were the main aspects that led the firm to choose Matic.

Indeed, high transaction costs within the Ethereum network have been a concern which have increased by over 3,000% annually rising to over $6. Matic network charges relatively low costs which averages at $4.

Binance, the largest crypto exchange firm in the world, acquired WazirX last year to expand its global presence in India. AMM’s testnet is set to be launched in September.

According to Shetty, the DeFi project is purely WazirX’s project adding that they were appreciative of Binance’s support.

Crypto trading volumes have risen in India following the Supreme Court’s lifting of the crypto transactions ban by the Reserve Bank of India in March and analysts see India as one of the most promising crypto markets in the world.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Ripple Submits A Policy Framework To Guide Indian Lawmakers In Regulating Digital Assets

  • The lack of robust laws or policies to guide the growth of crypto in India leaves enthusiasts with frightening thought of the Parliament probably taking steps towards banning crypto altogether.
  • In a bid to prevent this, American startup, Ripple, and largest custodian of XRP released a policy paper to guide digital assets legislation in the country.

India’s blockchain and digital assets industry is currently in limbo as the uncertainty rises from the country’s regulators’ view on crypto assets. Despite the Supreme Court of India ruling in favor of lifting the “unconstitutional” draconian ban on crypto by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the authorities are yet to draft a legal document regulating digital asset ecosystems.

“The Path Forward for Digital Assets Adoption in India”

The paper (titled as above) proposes short and medium-term policy frameworks to lawmakers in India in a bid to boost the overall development of blockchain and digital asset solutions in the country. The paper is filled with Ripple settlement networks and XRP advertisements but still offers a clear path on India coming into the global play in regulating the digital asset taxonomy.

In a statement on the release of the policy framework Sagar Sarbhai, Ripple’s Head of Government & Regulatory Affairs in the APAC region said:

“India is currently presented with an opportunity to develop a regulatory framework for a native digital assets ecosystem. We are optimistic about that after careful deliberation and consultation with industry participants.”

The draft submitted to the Indian legislation employs a “technology-agnostic, principles-based, and risk-adjusted” framework to provide a crisp and clear guidance structure in India.

Short and Medium-Term Plans

Ripple’s paper also offered short and medium-term plans for the Indian legislators, including attracting talent to the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) by drafting a short term digital asset framework for service providers.

The proposal focuses on the development of enterprise use cases for digital assets such as XRP. The paper further touted XRP’s potential in solving the cross border settlement problems across the region.

Furthermore, the paper also calls for the removal of digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and services arising from the “negative listing” in the RBI fintech regulatory sandbox framework. This allows developers the needed freedom to innovate and test their networks within a safe, regulated space. Navin Gupta, Ripple’s managing director in Asia, said:

“Under a clear regulatory framework, individuals and businesses can confidently take full advantage of and operate within a safe environment that encourages the use of innovative technology.”

The digital asset field in India is begging for a regulated platform with exchanges in the country recently approaching the central bank regarding taxation clarity.

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Author: Lujan Odera

MoneyGram to Offer Direct Deposits in India Via Federal Bank; Both Members of RippleNet

MoneyGram will now offer direct deposits to India following its partnership with Federal Bank, one of the leading financial institutions in the country. According to a recent announcement by the payment system service provider, this alliance will be strategic in offering its Indian clients an account credit option via the Federal Bank. The MoneyGram announcement reads,

“Through this partnership, millions will be able to receive deposits directly in their bank accounts without leaving the confines of their homes which is imperative in the current situation.”

As highlighted, this milestone is expected to further assist in COVID-19 mitigation following the ‘new normal’. Most economies have moved towards e-payment networks in a bid to keep the virus at bay. Given this situation, the alliance between MoneyGram and Federal Bank is especially important.

Furthermore, World bank stats indicate that India continues to dominate the global remittance market with 2019 recording over $82 billion. Notably, Federal bank enjoys 15% of this market and is therefore expected to significantly boost the partnership. MoneyGram’s Chief Revenue Officer, Grant Lines, echoed that they are confident of the value proposition by Federal Bank,

“Federal Bank is known throughout India as a pioneer in digitizing financial services, and we’re proud to partner with them to enable millions of people the option to receive money directly into their bank account.”

MoneyGram’s Venture in Ripple for International Remittances

Ripple, popularly known for its remittances service based on RippleNet, had already began working with MoneyGram. The two got into a partnership back in June 2019 which spiked hopes of MoneyGram leveraging a blockchain based platform for its payment services. This is, however, yet to happen despite the market adrenaline at the time.

In a recent Q1 earnings call, the CEO of MoneGram, Alexander Holmes, said that the quarter had been quite slow for the partnership. Nonetheless, they have some work in progress and boasted of the future prospects,

“We also have a variety of new services in the pipeline and things that we’ll be rolling out, and expanding with later this year…. But from a capability perspective from a service quality and from a performance, it’s been a really good — been a really good quarter.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

India’s National Blockchain Strategy Draft Calls On RBI To Release A Central Bank Digital INR

The National Institute for Smart Governance (NISG), a non-profit body launched by the government of India, releases its draft strategy on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. According to the official draft, the government of India should work towards releasing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), and a governing body to regulate the blockchain industry.

NISG drafts blockchain industry regulation policies

The committee chartered by the National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY), provided a clear policy framework for the governance and development of crypto products across India. The draft states India’s ambitions to become a world leader in tech, and digitalization is heavily impacted by the adoption of blockchain.

The report focuses on regulatory authorities in the country taking a bolder step towards setting the laws governing the blockchain field. It further discourages the continued issuing of public statements in place of having a solid regulatory framework to fall back onto. The draft states,

“Public statements, whether through the press or formal speeches, are helpful but are not official statements of application by the agency. If an agency intends to enforce its laws in new and innovative ways, it must first notify industry stakeholders of its intent to do so and the way in which existing law applies.”

Draft proposes a digital currency to replace the rupee

According to the draft, the NISG proposed a digital central bank currency similar to the rupee, offered by the government, in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The digital currency is to be built on a public blockchain similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum, allowing other dApps to run on top of it. The official statement reads,

“It is strongly recommended that Government of India along with RBI come out with a Central Bank Digital INR (CBDR) administered over a Public Permissioned Blockchain that processes transactions through a Turing Complete Virtual Machine allowing decentralized applications to run on its platform.”

An extended run for blockchain in India

India securities regulator recently urged the public and private sector to explore blockchain activities for the efficient trading and storage of digital securities market. Furthermore, the widely spread FUD on India banning cryptocurrencies has been debunked by the RBI, which only ringfenced the regulated entities from offering cryptocurrency services.

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Author: Lujan Odera

India’s Supreme Court Continues To Hear Case Against RBI Cryptocurrency Ban

The Reserve Bank of India had issued a circular in April 2018, which imposed a banking ban on crypto service providers. The circular prohibited banks from offering their service to all crypto-related service operators in the country. The banking ban was then challenged by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in the supreme court whose hearing has been going on for over a year now.

In the latest hearing which began on the 14th of January, the judges asked both the counsels to start the arguments fresh and from the beginning. The three-day proceedings saw the prosecution side explaining to the bench judges that the banking ban imposed by RBI was not under their jurisdictions.

The prosecution was headed by Mr Ashim Sood who noted that the RBI circular was bad mainly for three reasons,

  • Malice in law. RBI doesn’t have the power to ban but acted to ban Crypto on effect.
  • Colourable exercise
  • Ultra Vires – without authority.

Mr. Sood also pointed out the flawed analysis by RBI which in its circular claimed that since crypto assets are volatile and risky, it should not be allowed to be regulated. Sood explained that the same risk is involved in stock trading also and effectively lies under the domain of Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Mr. Sood also clarified that nobody wants to make cryptocurrency as a legal tender which has been a strong defence against legalizing cryptocurrencies. Mr. Sood explained that these digital assets can be used as a medium of exchange and store of value. He explained,

“Some people would find value in it and some people would exchange it. It is a technology which should be given free play. Casino chips are useful to the people who are inside the casino […] When I come out of [a] casino, its use ceases to exist but then some people may exchange it and it holds a value for the interested people. So likewise there is no obligation to use VCs [virtual currencies] as a medium of exchange.”

The current court proceedings in the RBI vs IAMAI is being seen as one of the most fruitful proceedings in the case which has been going on for over a year now. However, given the state of Indian judiciary it won’t be a big surprise if the case takes longer than what many had anticipated.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Ethereum Developer ConsenSys Shuts Down Operations in India and Philippines

  • In total, the teams in India and the Philippines only accounted for less than a dozen people.
  • The projects for these teams specifically dealt with decentralization and blockchain-based payments.

There are over 30 hubs around the world that are attributed to ConsenSys, the Ethereum blockchain development company. However, as reported by CoinDesk, the company has shut down their operations in both India and the Philippines. The teams were notified by Joe Lubin via email, who stated that the offices would be shut down, and the closure was confirmed by one of the members of the team in India.

This shutdown was part of a series of layoffs that began last year, dropping about 13% of the staff, which was about 1,200 members at the time. Since then, the total number of people employed have dropped down to 1,000 people. The last bull run of the crypto market paved the way for growth for the venture studio, bringing the price of Ethereum tokens up to $1,000. However, the crypto winter forced them to change their priorities and adjust their staff.

Overall, the operations shut down in India and Philippines only accounted for less than a dozen people in total, but their work involved some high-profile projects for the company. In India, the team was working on decentralization for multiple sectors, like healthcare and land titling. The team in the Philippines was focused on a network called Project i2i, using blockchain technology for interbank payments with UnionBank. Presently, the future of these projects is unclear.

Further questions were directed to the main office for ConsenSys in Brooklyn, New York, but CoinDesk reports that there was no comment provided by press time.

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Author: Krystle M

Supreme Court of India Holds Crypto Hearing Regarding the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Restrictions

According to a report by Bitcoin.com, a crypto hearing was held by the Supreme Court of India. The hearing was over writ petitions challenging restrictions on banking by the Reserve Bank of India.

Although the hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, it took place on Monday at the order of the senior counsel, which placed the hearing at the top of the board. This means that the case will be heard that day.

In any case, the hearing was over the Reserve Bank of India’s circular issued last April that prohibited financial institutions from providing cryptocurrency businesses with banking services. As a result, banks ceased providing services to crypto businesses and closed their accounts. Industry stakeholders then filed a petition to challenge the ban.

In addition to the court case, the legislature appears to be making headway concerning crypto. India’s legislature issued a draft crypto bill. The draft, included in a report issued by the Garg committee, is titled Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019. The bill is an updated version of another bill. It includes prohibitions concerning cryptocurrency and offenses.

Subhash Chandra Garg of the Garg Committee tweeted about the report, stating that the committee is very receptive of distributed ledger technologies and recommended widespread use in delivering financial services. Further, he added that private cryptocurrencies are of no real value and are rightly banned.

It appears that although there is support for a digital rupee, private cryptocurrencies do not have the same support and are thought to be valueless. According to a report by Bitcoin.com, the same position was taken by the report, which found that there is no fixed nominal value concerning private cryptocurrencies, they have no store of value, and they are not a medium of exchange.

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Author: Lillian Peter

XRP Army Fired Up About Ripple’s Possible Involvement with SWIFT Alternative for Russia, China and India

  • Russia, India, and China are developing a payment system as an alternative for SWIFT, connecting primarily with Russia’s payment system.
  • A meeting in 2017 is leading Ripple supporters to believe that XRP will be their chosen token.

XRP, the native token of Ripple, has found itself in many places, considering the widespread network of its creator. With low fees and fast transaction times, it manages to remain in the top cryptocurrencies in the world, and that’s just the kind of flexibility that consumers enjoy. It has been used by numerous financial institutions, but it could be big enough to be a part of a new alternative to SWIFT.

SWIFT is the payment system shared throughout the world, but China, Russia, and India have decided to choose a different path. Avoiding the use of this payment system, the trio is working on their own network for fast payments, and there are some members of the Ripple community that hope to find XRP involved.

The reports from Russia today states that the SPFS system of payments will be connecting with the CIPS system, which is based in China. SPFS was originally in development in 2014 in response to the suggestion that the US could cut off the country from accessing SWIFT.

There has yet to be a new project launched in India, but reports indicate that there are local engineers that are working on one. In the meantime, India has expressed that they’ll be connecting with the Russian system as well.

With talks of the recent blockchain innovations in China, due to remarks by President Xi Jinping, some people in the XRP community believe that XRP will be the coin chosen to create necessary liquidity in the new system.

The hopes expressed by the users appear to be due to a meeting that occurred back in 2017, which involved Chinese central bank representatives and Ripple.

China’s Central Bank, PBOC, has been working on a centralized digital currency recently, which is has been referred to as “China Coin.” Huang Qifan, the executive vice president of the China International Economic Exchange Centre, made a statement yesterday that the coin is actually being called DCEP, which is an abbreviation for “digital currency electronic payment.”

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Author: Krystle M

Sequoia-Backed Band Protocol Releases New BitSwing dApp Allowing Bitcoin Binary Options Trading

A new blockchain startup called Band Protocol, which was recently backed by Sequoia India has just released its first decentralized application (dapp): BitSwing. According to the company, the new dapp lets the users trade BTC binary options, which are a derivative based on Bitcoin.

The crypto media outlet The Block reported that the users of the company can decide to take both long and short positions on the BTC/USD market and that they can try to predict how prices will be a minute after the bet.

The creator and CEO of Band Protocol, Soravis Srinawakoon, affirmed that the product has been largely successful so far as over 40,000 transactions happened during the week in which the testnet was online.

To be able to use the dapp, the users need to install Metamask and then use the program, which is based on the Kovan testnet. After accessing the app, a person can use ETH to bet on the price of BTC by taking either a long or short position. If the person is correct, you can double your amount of ETH. if you are wrong, you lose it.

Despite the successful launch, the company was already criticized for the short timeframe of the predictions. A single minute is not a lot of time and the CEO affirmed that more options would be added soon.

According to the company, revenue is already appearing. Since the launch of the testnet, the company was able to raise around $12,000 USD. During a whole year, the team expects to raise around $300,000 USD alone from the program.

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Author: Gabriel Machado