Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin may soon become legal in India, a country known for its not-so-friendly approach to the nascent industry that has in the past moved to ban digital assets. This, as the crypto community in the country has been pressuring the government.
According to local news outlet New India Express, an interdisciplinary committee set up by the Indian government is looking into regulating and legalizing cryptocurrencies, although with tough terms and conditions.
A senior official who reportedly attended related discussions was quoted as saying:
We have already had two meetings. There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalized with strong riders. Deliberations are on. We will have more clarity soon.
The New India Express’ report comes days after another local news outlet claimed the same interdisciplinary committee is working to ban cryptocurrencies from India. This is notably the second committee the Indian government set up to look into cryptocurrencies, and it includes officials from the Reserve Bank of India – the country’s central bank, the MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology), among others.
The first one, which also included members from these organizations, ended up recommending a ban on cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year, India’s central bank issued a circular that saw it order banks to stop dealing with cryptocurrency-related firms.
The move took its toll, and saw one of the largest exchanges in the country by trading volume, -Zebpay, shut down. Per the exchange, the “curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customer’s, ability to transact business meaningfully.”
Despite the central bank’s move, the crypto community fought back and later on a missive from the country’s supreme court upheld the RBI’s decision. In late October, the supreme court even asked the Indian government to clarify its stance on cryptocurrencies.
The committee is scheduled to meet again in January. The official was quoted as saying:
We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity.
Earlier this year authorities took down the country’s first bitcoin ATM, and arrested the co-founder of the firm behind it, crypto exchange Unocoin. Despite the government’s tug of war with the crypto community, reports have suggested it’s considering a national cryptocurrency.