Coinbase CEO Says RBI's "Informal Pressure" For Halting Trading In India

The crypto exchange stopped its operations only three days after its launch in India.

Coinbase CEO Says RBI's 'Informal Pressure' For Halting Trading In India

Did "informal pressure" from the RBI halt Coinbase's operations in India?

On April 7, Nasdaq-listed Coinbase launched its crypto exchange service operations in India. But only three days after its launch, the firm rolled back its services. 

In a month since its trading halt, the company's CEO Brian Armstrong has finally commented on the situation during an earnings call on May 10. 

According to the CEO's statement, Coinbase halted trading service in the country as it was receiving "informal pressure" from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to prevent crypto trade within its boundaries. 

The episode took place in April and was followed by a statement by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that governs UPI. 

The Coinbase app allowed Indian users to use UPI to buy crypto tokens. That was a huge leap in the world's second-largest internet market. UPI is a highly popular Indian payment infrastructure built by the joint efforts of retail banks. The statement by NPCI refused to acknowledge UPI support on the Coinbase app.

A report in Tech Crunch stated that Armstrong noted that the app no longer used UPI "because of some informal pressure from the Reserve Bank of India".

Although cryptocurrency is not banned in India, Armstrong said that "elements in the government there, including at Reserve Bank of India, who don't seem to be as positive on it." 

He added that the authorities were essentially exerting subtle pressure behind the scenes to try to stop some of these payments, which may be made via UPI.

Coinbase has plans to relaunch its app in the country. Armstrong said that their choice is to work with the authorities in India and concentrate on relaunching.

The Coinbase CEO believes that the RBI's actions may be "in violation of the Supreme Court ruling". This refers to a previous ban imposed by RBI on crypto trading. But this was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Speaking about crypto trading in countries like India, Armstrong said, "The people of these countries generally really want crypto. And, so, to me, that says that in most places in the free world and democracies, crypto is going to eventually be regulated and legal, but it's going to take time for them to get comfortable with this."

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