Wed, 19 Jan 2022

NEW DELHI, India: India will introduce a bill during the winter session of Parliament that could block the use of most private cryptocurrencies and regulate virtual currencies, the government announced.

According to a legislative agenda for the winter session that begins later this month, the bill will still allow the use of certain cryptocurrencies, to promote the technology and its uses.

Through the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill for 2021, India seeks to establish a framework for the official digital currency, which will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

"Serious concerns" about private cryptocurrencies have been expressed by the bank, which is set to launch its own digital currency by December.

The value of Bitcoin, the world's leading cryptocurrency, is some $60,000, more than doubling since the start of the year, which has attracted many Indian investors.

While no official data is available, the local industry estimates the number of crypto investors in India hovers between 15 to 20 million, with total holdings of some $5.39 billion.

Although a bill was not introduced earlier this year, the Indian government has also considered criminalizing the possession, issuance, mining, trading and transference of crypto assets.

This month, two government sources told Reuters that the government, through imposing heavy capital gains and other taxes, has changed its stance slightly and is now looking to discourage trading in cryptocurrencies.

But a senior official told Reuters that the government aims to ban private crypto assets, while paving the way for a new Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Amidst concerns that unregulated crypto markets could be used for money laundering and terrorist financing, other sources told Reuters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently chaired a meeting to discuss the future of cryptocurrencies.

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