A new petition raised by the Indian bitcoin industry is urging influential politicians and lawmakers to deem bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be legal in the country.
The petition comes at a time when bitcoin is making regional headlines due to statements from policymakers and politicians who have raised concerns about the lack of regulation surrounding the bitcoin industry.
Last week, Kirit Somaiya, a member of the Indian Parliament made remarks comparing bitcoin to a “pyramid ponzi scheme”, calling for a regulatory system or framework to oversee the industry.
The Reserve Bank of India, India’s central bank and financial regulator has repeatedly weighed in on the subject, with a distinctly hands-off approach while warning users and adopters that neither bitcoin nor any companies dealing with the cryptocurrency were authorized to operate in the country. For their part, the big players in the Indian bitcoin industry – who welcome regulation - have banded together to launch a self-regulatory body, to ensure adherence to KYC and AML norms. The Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) will also serve as a watchdog, warning investors of suspicious schemes dealing with cryptocurrencies.
This week, Indian news media incorrectly reported that bitcoin was deemed illegal by referencing statements by a union minister of state in finance at a Parliamentary session on Tuesday. Meanwhile, there are rumors of a Parliamentary Committee set up to look and determine the legality of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in India.
With this in mind, the DABFI has launched a petition calling for the explicit legality of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the country.
Launched on Wednesday, the petition is addressed to Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance Minister; Urjit R Patel, the governor of India’s central bank and; Selvakumar, the joint secretary at the Indian Ministry of Finance.
“We wish to develop a responsible industry around this revolutionary technology [blockchain],” the petition read, citing a number of benefits that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology bring to the Indian economy. They include saving on remittance costs as the world’s largest remittance receiver, financial inclusion and country’s rich technology talent pool who could help establish India as a FinTech hub.
Referencing the concerns raised by the politicians about plausible criminal abuse of bitcoin, the petition adds:
Stop bad actors, not the technology: With infrastructure technologies like the Internet, the smartphone and cryptocurrencies, it makes far more economic sense to chase the bad actors (for example, ponzi schemes) rather than shutting down the technology.
Cryptocurrencies will be available irrespective and the illegal users do not care about its legal status. Please do not take hasty steps and prevent innovation, economic activity and jobs. This will only stop good uses of cryptocurrencies.
Launched on Wednesday, the petition has now gained nearly 5,000 signatures and hopes to reach a minimum of 100,000 supporting signatures before forwarding the petition to Indian lawmakers and officials.
The petition can be found here.
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