Back in July this year, Indian authorities faced a huge backlash among cryptocurrency investors and startups when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced its intention to ban cryptocurrencies, declaring that no one could use bank accounts to facilitate the buying or selling of cryptocurrency. The widely criticised move was quickly escalated to the supreme court, bringing the debate on cryptocurrency into the mainstream government.
The RBI’s initial move backfired, as can be expected. Cryptocurrency was designed as a decentralised currency built for peer-to-peer networks and it was not long before a plethora of P2P platforms emerged on the Indian market to facilitate trading or ‘Bitcoin Dealing’ as it is often referred to, bypassing the controls of the RBI and at the same time creating a booming cryptoeconomy that was stronger than ever before.
Now it appears that the government, in an attempt to save face, is on a new mission to make cryptocurrencies completely illegal. A government panel commissioned in November 2018 to draft laws and guidelines for cryptocurrencies has now submitted its final report to the government, in which it is rumoured to state that
“…all such currencies should be treated as illegal… The law should enlist punitive measures that the government and its investigative agencies can take in case it finds anyone or any entity trading or dealing/holding it”.
Of course, there is no official word yet, so whether or not the Indian Government really does decide to go through with such a ban and how they would actually enforce it remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain – given the interest in cryptocurrency within the region and the lack of trust in the official systems, people will continue to find new and innovative ways to get around the system.
Unfortunately, encouraging such a culture inevitably spawns a breeding ground for a small minority of people to exploit others, meaning that the potential for criminality is substantially increased – but perhaps that is ultimately the intention -after all, the Indian government is not alone in its desperation to have the public believe that cryptocurrency is synonymous with threats such as organised crime and terrorism.
The truth is, some governments just can’t accept that the economic landscape is changing and that a redistribution of wealth is inevitable – with cryptocurrency at the heart of it. The beauty of decentralised currency is that it will find a way to succeed. To quote the words of author Dan Brown, “Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer.”