New Delhi: With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announcing that virtual currencies are no legal tender and that the proliferation of its use for illegitimate financing will be curbed, the bitcoin prices fell significantly on Thursday. On Coinsecure, the bitcoin prices declined to Rs 6,08,000, while in the international market the prices slipped over 6% to $,9500. On the Luxembourg-based BitStamp, bitcoins are traded for $9,400 on Thursday.
"Crypto currencies are no legal tender and the government discourages its use. However, the government will look at the utilisation of Blockchain (a distributed digital technology that supports crypto currencies)," Jaitley said in his Budget speech in Parliament.
Bipin Preet Singh, Co-founder of e-wallet MobiKwik, said that "the government should consider regulating crypto currencies than curbing their use entirely".
Neither the government nor the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has authorized any virtual currency as a medium of exchange till date but the momentum for such virtual currencies is catching up rapidly in India like other countries.
"The announcement on the crypto currency should not be misinterpreted. The intention is more likely to regulate the circulation to avoid its usage for illegal transactions," noted Rashmi Deshpande, Associate Partner, Khaitan & Co, a leading law firm.
"In addition, the government has recognised the viability of blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrency. Efforts should be made to bring in regulations at the earliest to achieve this aim," Deshpande added.
According to Sapan Gupta, National Practice Head-Banking & Finance at law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, capitalizing on the Blockchain technology could open new ways of securing peer-to-peer lending transactions, boosting trade finance, fintech and information repository sectors.
"We can expect amendments in coming time in various laws such as SEBI Act, Securities Contract Regulation Act, and Prevention of Money Laundering Act, to curb the use of crypto currencies which are being used to fund illegitimate transactions," Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann
"By segregating the use of Blockchain from crypto currencies reflects the government's intention to use the technology in a gradual and safer manner, before it gets into concepts like replacing currencies," Gupta said.
D.D. Mishra, Research Director at Gartner, said that rather than restricting crypto currencies, they can be regulated to prevent any adverse impact and risks while exploring Blockchain side by side.
"It is a clear indication of how important and widespread this technological innovation has become in India. BACC welcomes the statement and reaffirms its unstinting assistance to the government, and all regulators, in helping evolve a robust ecosystem for crypto currencies," said Ajeet Khurana, Head, The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee of India (BACC).
(With IANS inputs)
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