As the Indian government deliberates on the country’s crypto policy, there has been some confusion in media reports regarding crypto regulation in India. A group of local crypto enthusiasts and community members have gathered in an effort to ensure that the crypto situation in India is accurately portrayed.
Also read: Indian Lawmaker Says ‘Cryptocurrency Is Inevitable’
Problem With Misinformation
While the Indian government has not decided on the direction of the country’s crypto policy, a number of media reports have painted an inaccurate picture of the actual situation. The banking restriction by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies have contributed to misleading reports such as India banning cryptocurrency or crypto exchanges and prohibiting crypto trading or owning cryptocurrencies.
To prevent misinformation from spreading, a number of Indian crypto industry stakeholders and community members gathered on Dec. 14 for an event in New Delhi called “Unwind 2.0.” It was co-organized by Indian crypto exchange Coindcx and blockchain startup Inblox Network. Coindcx CEO Sumit Gupta explained to news.Bitcoin.com on Tuesday:
There is still a huge misrepresentation that crypto is banned in India but the fact is crypto companies and exchanges are not allowed relationships with RBI-regulated entities like banks. However crypto companies are free to operate on their own.
He added that “Due to the misrepresentation of many such facts and information, the true picture does not emerge to people outside the crypto space, accounting for 99% of the total Indian population.” The CEO additionally described:
Currently, mainstream media reports all the negative news, and gives little notice to positive ones. There are many positive news but [they] go uncovered.
Getting Mainstream Journalists on Board
The event stressed the importance of ensuring that crypto-related regulatory and industry developments are portrayed accurately. This is the second Unwind event. The first one, which took place in November, focused on bringing the crypto community and business leaders together. Journalists attending the event on Saturday were from a number of Indian mainstream news outlets such as the Indian Express, Inshorts, Business Standard, and Inc42.
“The major reason why journalists attended Unwind 2.0 [was] because there were a number of uncertainties in the cryptocurrencies and blockchain community, which included the state of regulations in the country,” Coindcx noted. Business Standard journalist Vireshwar Tomar suggested during the event that crypto exchanges could work on educating young journalism graduates so that the next generation is equipped with crypto knowledge.
The journalists at the event participated in an exercise that tests their knowledge of crypto news. They were asked if a few crypto-related statements were true or false such as “cryptocurrencies are banned in India,” “There are 5 bitcoin ATMs in India,” “Due to lack of regulations, blockchain projects have stopped investing in India,” and “Reliance Jio is building its own blockchain, dubbing it to be the world’s largest blockchain.” Coindcx revealed to news.Bitcoin.com:
The journalists present at the event answered true to most of the statements which were actually not true.
“The point of the game was proved which highlighted the fact that mainstream media journalists have very little idea about the reality of the cryptocurrency industry,” the exchange noted, adding that this will help them “understand that every morsel of information out there, pertaining to crypto and blockchain, needs thorough research.” The organizer conveyed that many journalists at the event expressed their willingness “to go the distance and report accurately,” but “they would definitely like to be more educated on the topic and that would perhaps make mainstream media pick up these stories.”
The Truth About Crypto Regulation in India
While India currently has no crypto regulation, a number of existing laws could apply to crypto businesses. A draft bill entitled “Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019” was submitted to the government in February but it is not on the agenda to be introduced in Parliament this year. Gupta further shared with news.Bitcoin.com:
The truth about Indian crypto regulation is that it will be a long-drawn process. While ideally, it would be wonderful if there was a faster resolution, but there are many factors to be taken into account.
He continued: “The Indian government is taking a cautionary approach toward regulation. They are actively studying the benefits of blockchain technology and more importantly monitoring the steps of various developed countries like the USA, China, Japan, and UAE in terms of how they are approaching cryptocurrency regulation. So, we believe when the regulation does come, the government will take all facts into consideration before passing an act.”
Meanwhile, the banking restriction imposed by the central bank is still in effect. The RBI issued a circular in April last year prohibiting regulated financial institutions from providing services to customers dealing in cryptocurrencies, including exchanges. This ban has been challenged in India’s supreme court, which is scheduled to resume hearing the case next month.
“We expect the government to closely follow the court case that is currently scheduled to be heard on January 14. We want them to hear both sides. We have presented a strong case and have provided adequate information,” Gupta opined, concluding:
Before taking any final decision, we believe the government will consult with all the key stakeholders in the crypto community.
Furthermore, the crypto community has been actively campaigning for positive crypto regulation. The “India Wants Crypto” social media campaign has entered its 412th day. The community strongly believes that the draft bill is flawed and no one in the crypto industry was consulted prior to the drafting of this bill. A member of the upper house of India’s parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has indicated that he will help the crypto community convey the message to the government. Moreover, another member of the upper house of parliament, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, said last week that “Cryptocurrency is inevitable.”
What do you think about the community’s efforts to stop misinformation concerning India’s crypto policy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Coindcx.
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