Michael Hsu, who took over as acting comptroller as of May 10, said he would like US officials to work in lockstep to set a “regulatory perimeter” for cryptocurrencies, a Financial Times report quoted him as saying.
Cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, swinging between record users and outages amid an investment boom, said on June 1 that it has launched a marketplace for Non Fungible Tokens, which will let users own unique digital works of art and let creators tap into an economy that has recently exploded.
The platform said to be the first in South Asia, will allow space 3D artists, digital artists, muralist photographers, canvas artists, street artists, and others to transact in art, music, videos, collectibles, and in-game articles.
The platform has no listing fees, is offering cashback and rewards worth $50,000, and offers minimal gas fees- the money that NFT trading platforms charge, WazirX said.
“Creators on the WazirX NFT platform have been divided into various categories and the team is onboarding them in a phased-out manner. The launch is heavily focused on Indian-origin artists scattered around the world for now. The selection of artists has been divided into ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Discover’ sections. Spotlight artists have been curated keeping in mind the diversity of their work, genre, popularity, and credibility,” the company said.
Vimal Chandran, Tyler, Sneha Chakraborty, Ishita Banerjee, and Arjun Menon are among the 300 artists selected from over 15,000 applications WazirX received.
“More artists and collectors across the globe are today tapping the power of NFTs. By doing so, they are realizing the wide-ranging benefits of using smart contracts to dignify and secure digital art ownership for every artist and collector by providing them with an opportunity to create wealth. NFTs ensure the exclusivity of ownership and can be seen as a way to digitize artwork and other collectible items,” said Sandesh B Suvarna, Vice President of WazirX NFT Marketplace.
NFTs have surged in popularity in the West, with some of these digital works selling for millions of dollars, and sought after by top auction houses such as Sotheby’s. These works range from creative to colourful to obnoxious and funny, such as famous NFT artist Beeple’s works of Donald Trump.
In India last week, independent Tamil musician Kaber Vasuki sold a phone demo of his song ‘Vasanam’ as a non-fungible token (NFT) for 50 ETH — valued at nearly Rs 1.5 crore at the time of sale. This is the biggest reported sale of an NFT by an Indian artist.
The next step in cryptocurrency usage in India also comes at a time when banks and crypto exchanges have been at loggerheads to support investment in bitcoin and other digital assets. Leading banks HDFC and State Bank of India even wrote to some customers asking for an explanation of crypto transactions and saying further such activity may lead to their account being suspended.
Banks have been citing regulator RBI’s circular from 2018 where it banned cryptocurrencies. However, India’s Supreme Court quashed the order a few months ago and deemed it unconstitutional. The RBI clarified on May 31 that banks cannot cite the 2018 circular for such communications.The RBI said “Such references to the above circular by banks/ regulated entities are not in order” and “in view of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the circular is no longer valid from the date of the Supreme Court judgment, and therefore cannot be cited or quoted from."