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In line with the previous moves, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Union Budget 2018 today said that while the Indian government favours blockchain, it, however, will do every bit to stop Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies trading in India in financing illegitimate activities.

Jaitley stated, “The Indian government will take all measures to eliminate the use of crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities. The government will also explore the use of blockchain technology for ushering in the digital economy.”

Interestingly, Jaitley used the word ‘crypto-assets’ instead of ‘virtual currency’ which has been used by the RBI and the Indian government so far in their statements.

Despite the Indian government’s strict actions, many organisations and entrepreneurs are still looking forward to launching cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

This can also be seen as a positive statement that if no black money is involved, the government might allow the cryptocurrency trade to continue in future.

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Abhishek G, co-founder and CEO of ThroughBit commented, “It’s heartening to hear the Finance Minister talking about the governments impending involvement in eliminating fraud and fraudulent use of crypto-assets. The general public should breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the government will now take steps to safeguard them, and that we are now closer than ever to a regulated crypto-asset market.”

“Also, the use of Blockchain for establishing a full fledged digital economy should excite entrepreneurs. It will lead to the development of a slew of industry defining products and services,” he further added.

In a statement released earlier, the government had equated Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with Ponzi schemes.

Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder and CEO of Unocoin commented that the budget speech is in line with the government’s earlier stance.

The statement released by the government earlier read, “There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally. The VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of Bitcoin and other VCs, therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money.”

Commenting on the budget, Praveen Kumar Vijayakumar, Chairman and CEO Belfrics Global stated, “As expected, the government has not changed its stance on the trade of cryptocurrencies in India. However, it is definitely a progressive step by the FM to announce that the government will be looking at utilisation of blockchain as a technology. It shows that the government is looking at blockchain in a serious way, which is a positive sign.”

He further added, “I believe that the government is taking it’s time to understand the crypto world and will come out with suitable steps to regulate the same in this year. India’s global share on cryptocurrency market is steadily increasing and government intervention can only help regulate this entire industry.”

The central government earlier had clarified that neither the Indian government nor the Reserve Bank of India has authorised any virtual currency as a medium of exchange. Further, the Government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as exchange or any other kind of intermediary for any cryptocurrency. Persons dealing in them must consider these facts and beware of the risks involved in dealing in cryptocurrencies.

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