As Indian authorities ponder a regulatory framework for the future of digital currencies in the country, India’s foremost financial official has remarked about the growing popularity and adoption of bitcoin.
Indian Finance Minister Arun has admitted that the last few years have shown a “notable growth” of the bitcoin market in India. According to the Hindu, the senior government official further added, in a written response to the lower house of the Indian Parliament, that there is increasing evidence of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin being used in the country.
In these written comments about bitcoin, Jaitley reportedly underlined two main categories of bitcoin adopters and operators in India. Those in the public domain include self-regulated digital currency exchanges while the other operate with bitcoin through informal social media platforms and mobile apps, the official said.
Jaitley, the central financial figure representing the ruling government which enforced an unprecedented and controversial demonetization drive – effectively wiping out 86% of India’s cash overnight last year – has previously called for “less cash transactions and an increase in digital currency” usage in the country.
Earlier in March, India’s Ministry of Finance established an intergovernmental committee to explore, research and propose a regulatory framework for digital currencies in India. The committee’s recommendation is certain to influence the legislative future of bitcoin and other digital currencies in the country. While details of the panel’s report remain under wraps, the committee has reportedly submitted its findings and recommendations to Jaitley last week.
There have been suggestions that bitcoin could be regulated as a security rather than a currency by India’s capital markets regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India.
These proceedings come at a time when bitcoin is experiencing an ever-growing surge in popularity in the country. Earlier in May, bitcoin exchange Zebpay crossed a significant milestone of 500,000 installs of its application. Subsequent soaring demand saw the bitcoin exchange enforce buying ‘limits’ on bitcoin purchases. Another Indian exchange, Coinsecure, had to shutter its services temporarily after being unable to cope with the “exponential growth” of bitcoin users on its platform.
Meanwhile, bitcoin prices are now trading above $4,000, an unprecedented high for the cryptocurrency’s value. Bitcoin prices are now up over 3,000% this year.
Featured image from Shutterstock.