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Won't 'shut off' all cryptocurrencies, allow window for experiments on blockchain: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said since financial technology (fintech) companies depend on blockchain, which are considered to be backbone of cryptocurrencies, they should have a window available.

March 14, 2021 / 10:50 PM IST
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (File Image)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (File Image)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 14 said India would not "shut off all cryptocurrency", but would allow "experiments" with the technology behind the alternative form of payment.

"From our (the finance ministry's) side we are very clear that we are not shutting all options. We will allow certain window for people to do experiments on blockchain, bitcoins, or cryptocurrency," Sitharaman said at the India Today Conclave.

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The minister said since financial technology (fintech) companies depend on blockchain, which are considered to be backbone of cryptocurrencies, they should have a window available.

She said Cabinet is preparing detailed rules on cryptocurrencies. "It (Cabinet note) is nearing completion, and then it would be taken for the Cabinet of course. The Supreme Court had commented on the cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank will take a call on official cryptocurrency," she said.

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She said once the parliament session is over, she will devote more time in executing and planning the rules. Sitharaman said the government will encourage the work going on fintech and on blockchain.

Referring to a meeting being called in the Gujarat city, Sitharaman said a lot of fintech firms have made progress and the ministry has got various presentations too. She hoped to take their work in a big way to IFSC or Gift City in Gandhinagar.

Earlier on March 10, India's leading cryptocurrency players, represented by the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) appealed the government not to ban cryptocurrencies, saying that a robust mechanism to regulate the ecosystem is needed.

Sitharaman had recently said the government would take a "calibrated" approach to crypto trading and "negotiations and discussions" are going on with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on how to regulate cryptocurrency in India. She has already said the government is preparing a Bill on cryptocurrencies after an inter-ministerial panel proposed a ban.
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