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Govt Rejects Legitimacy of Cryptocurrency #Budget2018 Some experts have applauded the government's stance as domestic consumers are yet to understand the technology leading to potential frauds

By Vanita D'souza

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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While most of Indian Inc are rejoicing Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's last Union Budget ahead of Elections 2019, the minister has created a major stir among Indian investors in the cryptocurrencies space.

Jaitley in his Budget 2018-19 speech rejected the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies as he said, "The government does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payments system"

To contain the cautiousness created by the minister's announcement, stakeholders such as Zebpay, Unocoin, Digital Assets & Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) issued statements asking the cryptocurrency holders to not panic as there is no change in the government stance.

In 2017, on multiple occasions, the RBI cautioned users, holders and traders of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security-related risks that they are exposing themselves to.

Similarly, DABFI also said the statement indirectly cautions people to be discreet with respect to investing in virtual currencies, as is true with gold & stocks, it does not regard cryptocurrency as illegal.

Need For Regulations

Some of the experts have applauded the government stance as domestic consumers are yet to understand the technology leading to potential frauds. Aniketh Jain, CEO & Co-Founder of Solutions Infini Pvt. Ltd cryptocurrencies have been volatile with heavy price fluctuations. Additionally, the roots of the cryptocurrencies and the related transactions are not extravagantly transparent making them more questionable.

"Hackers are gaining most out of this scenario as the difficulty of tracing the roots of accounts and transactions are very high. There have been several instances where the accounts of the investors have been prone to hacker attacks and there's no established mechanism to revive the accounts from the hackers," he pointed out.

Even though Rahul Agarwal, Director Wealth Discovery is in support of cryptocurrencies, he agreed that they have to be regulated and monitored and till the time there is a framework in place, it's good to stop people in meddling with them and loosing hard earned money.

"The government's decision to eliminate the use of cryptocurrency and in turn promote blockchain is a welcome step, most of the activity in the cryptocurrency front is speculative and has the potential for an average user who doesn't really understand the technology lose a lot of money," he added.

What Next?

Malav Virani, Partner, MDP & Partners suggests the government should issue a clarification with respect to taxability, KYC, transferability, ownership, acquisition etc. of cryptocurrency.

With the government continuing its stance on cryptocurrency not being a legal tender, the panic is expected to linger on in the market for a while.

Vanita D'souza

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

I am a Mumbai-based journalist and have worked with media companies like The Dollar Business Magazine, Business Standard, etc.While on the other side, I am an avid reader who is a travel freak and has accepted foodism as my religion.

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