As Centre Plans To Table Bill On Cryptocurrency In Parl Winter Session, A Look At Crypto’s Growth In India

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government has no proposal to recognise Bitcoin as a currency in the country.

Representative Image of Bitcoin (File Photo)

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government has no proposal to recognise Bitcoin as a currency in the country. On the being asked whether the government was aware that Bitcoin transaction is silently growing in India, Sitharaman said that the Centre does not collect any data on Bitcoin transaction in the country. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was replying to question in the Lok Sabha as the winter session of Parliament convened on Monday.

Meanwhile, the government plans to introduce the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 in the ongoing session of Parliament. The Bill seeks to ban all but a few private cryptocurrencies to promote underlying technologies while allowing an official digital currency by RBI. Here’s a look at the entry and growth of cryptocurrency in India.

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Cryptocurrency in India: A Brief Timeline

2013: Cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin is launched, making it accessible for Indians to buy and sell Bitcoin.

2013: RBI issues a press release cautioning the public against dealing in virtual currencies including Bitcoin.

2017: RBI issues another press release reiterating its concerns regarding cryptocurrencies raised in its earlier release of 2013.

October and November, 2017: Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) are filed in the Supreme Court of India, asking the apex court to restrict the sale and purchase of cryptocurrencies in India.

2017: Ministry of Finance issues press releases cautioning the general public about the dangers and risks associated with cryptocurrencies, while saying that cryptocurrencies are like ponzi schemes and also declaring that they are not currencies or coins.

November, 2017: Government of India (GoI) constitutes a high-level inter-ministerial committee to study various issues pertaining to virtual currencies and to propose specific actions.

April 6, 2018: RBI issues circular which prevents Commercial and Co-operative Banks, Payments Banks, Small Finance Banks, NBFCs, and Payment System Providers not only from dealing in virtual currencies themselves but also directs them to stop providing services to all entities which deal with virtual currencies.

May 15, 2018: Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) files a writ petition in the Supreme Court.

July, 2019: This inter-ministerial committee, constituted by Centre, submits its report recommending a ban on private cryptocurrencies in India.

March 4, 2020: Supreme Court overturns RBI’s ban. Interest in cryptocurrencies spikes globally following the COVID-19 lockdown and prices start rising after an initial correction. Bitcoin goes up from about USD 3,700 to nearly USD 30,000 by the end of the year.

May 31, 2021: RBI releases a statement that earlier circular banning Virtual Currency is no longer valid from the date of the Supreme Court judgement, and therefore cannot be cited or quoted from.

July 22, 2021: RBI talks about idea of its own Digital Currency. Central Bank Digital Currencies(CBDC) is a digital or virtual currency but it is not comparable to the private virtual currencies that have mushroomed over the last decade.

November 15, 2021: At a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance with industry associations and experts on the matter of crypto finance, there was an understanding that cryptocurrency can’t be stopped but it must be regulated.

November 29, 2021: The government has no proposal to recognise Bitcoin as a currency in the country, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says in a reply to the Lok Sabha on Monday.