‘Not a ban’: Centre regulating cryptocurrency to check role in ‘hawala’, terror funding, say sources

As markets and experts speculate on the consequences of Centre’s move to bring a bill to regulate cryptocurrency, sources in the security establishment told CNN-News18 that the regulation will not be an outright ban

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The Centre’s move to bring a bill in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament to regulate cryptocurrency has sparked a ripple effect, with bitcoin prices crashing to the lowest in a month.

As markets and experts speculate on the consequences of the decision, sources in the security establishment told CNN-News18 that the regulation will not be an outright ban.

“A regulation mechanism will be in place so that crypto is not misused. The government is concerned about the underground transactions happening against cryptocurrency — particularly its role in ‘hawala’ and terror funding,” they said.

They added that cryptocurrency will not be recognised as legal tender as this is dangerous for the currency and taxation system of the country. “A strict mechanism will be in place so that law enforcement agencies can trace the origin of cryptocurrency used for illegal or anti-national work,” they said.

Also read: Centre to introduce cryptocurrency regulation bill in Winter Session: All you need to know about proposed legislation

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, is among 26 bills listed for introduction in the Winter Session, beginning on 29 November, according to the Lok Sabha website.

This comes a week after a Parliamentary panel, chaired by BJP leader Jayant Sinha, discussed the pros and cons of crypto finance with various stakeholders, and an agreement was reached that digital currencies can’t be stopped but must be regulated.

The bill seeks to “prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India” but allows for “certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology and its uses”. It also aims to “create a facilitative framework” for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the RBI.

On Wednesday, all major digital currencies saw a fall of around 15 percent and more, with Bitcoin down by around 18.53 percent, Ethereum fell by 15.58 percent, and Tether down by 18.29 percent. According to data sourced from CoinDesk, a New York-based news site specialising in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin’s value depreciated to $55,460.96 on Tuesday evening, an additional 20 percent slump from the all-time high of nearly $69,000 that it reached earlier on in November.

India has been taking a keen note on cryptocurrencies, thanks to its robust growth in the country amid a lack of regulations, but the government has been eager to bring in laws to regulate the digital currency sector.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week said cryptocurrencies must not fall into the “wrong hands and spoil our youth”, urging all democratic nations to come together and ensure things like these do not happen. The government and the RBI had recently hinted about floating a strong regulatory control on cryptocurrency to avoid money laundering and terror financing, rather than banning it entirely.

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