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Budget 2018: FM Jaitley calls cryptocurrencies illegal, operators say it's business as usual

Exchange platforms dealing in controversial cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins today asserted that it's "business as usual" hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declared such instruments as illegal.

February 02, 2018 / 02:23 PM IST

Exchange platforms dealing in controversial cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins today asserted that it's "business as usual" hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declared such instruments as illegal.

"There is no change in the government stance with respect to trading cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency holders need not panic and the business is as usual," chief executive and co-founder of Unocoin Sathvik Vishwanath said.

Also Read: Budget 2018: Arun Jaitley says cryptocurrency is not legal tender, government will discourage its use

Another player Zebpay's Nischint Sanghavi claimed Jaitley's comments are being misreported to say that Bitcoins are illegal and affirmed his exchange's full support to government to eliminate their use in illegitimate activities.

"This announcement does not affect our customers as we hold the highest standards for know your customer and anti- money laundering policies," he said.

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Belfrics Global's chairman Praveenkumar Vijayakumar said government is taking time to understand the crypto world and the country' global share on cryptocurrency market is steadily increasing.

"Government intervention can only help regulate this entire industry," he said.

Amid a huge spike in the value of the unregulated cryptocurrencies, which are "mined" using secret algorithms based on the blockchain technologies, Jaitley today said such instruments are illegal and vowed that government will work to eliminate their use for illegal activities and also being used in the payment system.

"Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coins and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system,"Jaitley said in the Budget speech.

The head of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee of India Ajeet Khurana interpreted the minister's remarks as a "clear indication of how important and widespread this technological innovation has become in the country.

"We welcome the statement, and reaffirms our unstinting assistance to government, and all regulators, in helping evolve a robust ecosystem for cryptocurrencies," Khurana added.

It can be noted that the Reserve Bank has been warning the public regularly against the risks that such instruments pose and has made its discomfort clear multiple times.

"The necessary next step is for government to legislate and thereafter regulate cryptocurrencies in the country. Clarifications are needed in respect of taxability, KYC norms, transferability, ownership, acquisition of cryptocurrencies here," Malav Virani of the law firm MDP and partners said.

The sector also welcomed the positive approach with which government is looking at the blockchain technologies on which such cryptocurrencies are based.

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PTI
first published: Feb 2, 2018 11:00 am

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