Foreign Crypto Players May Fear Navigating in India’s Uncertain Legal Climate: Unocoin Chief

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of one of world’s largest crypto exchanges — Coinbase, addressed a rather unpleasant event that his firm recently encountered in India. Days after launching a UPI-based crypto-buying feature in India, Coinbase had to suspend it because the government denied to recognise the move. Armstrong said, Coinbase faced “informal pressure” from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to roll back the feature. Due to this confusion of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in the nation, foreign crypto players may delay their investments and engagements with Indian industry players in the times to come.

The observation was highlighted by Sathvik Vishwanath, one of India’s earliest adopters of crypto and the Co-Founder, CEO of India’s own Unocoin crypto exchange, in conversation with Gadgets 360.

Vishwanath has been advocating fair policies for crypto players in India for a while now.

While accepting that the government of a nation cannot function as a ‘start-up’ and experiment with risky decisions, the Unocoin chief said Indian government must align its priorities around crypto, that benefits the sector all together and not just the treasury.

“We will have to see crypto like an investment instrument. The decision that we will take now can actually, you know, make or break the future prospect as far as crypto in India is concerned,” Vishwanath said.

In recent times, after COVID-19 cases decreased globally, a number of crypto-related conferences and events have been organised in different parts of the world, including US’ Miami, Dubai, Croatia, Thailand, and Mexico among other nations. It came as a disappointment that not a lot of Indian crypto players marked their presence on these global forums.

Vishwanath, who did represent India’s crypto community at some of these events, believes that it is only a matter of time before Indians take centre stages at all these global crypto conferences.

The strong economy of India cannot keep investors away for too long, Vishwanath has predicted. Only, the laws need to be favourable for industry players to foray into the Indian crypto market with the surety of not harming their brand values. As these networking with global crypto insiders increases, Indian crypto community will steal the light at global crypto stages, he said.

Taxing crypto incomes should not have been on the top of the agenda. Yes, it is imperative that the booming sector contributes to India’s economy. But, for the authorities to create a stable ecosystem for an industry to establish itself is important as well. India should not lose out on the opportunity that a new industry like crypto is bringing to the table. Crypto is not bad and does not deserve to be punished with unfair taxes,” said the Bengaluru-based cryptopreneur.

As one of the earliest crypto moguls from India, the Unicoin head has observed that India has already lost some years in finding out about cryptocurrency and trying out the investments.

He does however feel, that India’s start up ecosystem is incubating the crypto sector in well-maintained conditions, the results of which will be startling in the years to come.

Vishwanath has “congratulated” his fellow Indian crypto players for having raised tonnes of capital and big fat customer-bases despite the regularity unclarity, shadowing the space all-together.

As per data by industry tracker Tracxn, India attracted crypto funding and blockchain investments worth $638 million across 48 rounds in 2021.

Moving beyond crypto, Vishwanath has advised the people and government of India to finetune our blockchain networks and start migrating to the decentralised future.

“People must stop going with completely centralised systems anymore because errors in these traditional systems come with too many excuses. For tariffs, for political pressures for money pressures for whatever threats. People should understand the difference and see like wherever there is an opportunity for decentralisation that is the way going forward anyway,” the alum of Melbourne Business School noted.

At this point, India stands at the cusp of walking into the Web3 world. Blockchain startups in metaverse, NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and gaming are cropping up rapidly in the country.

The valuation of Unocoin iteslf, that launched in 2013, exceeded $20 million (roughly Rs. 155 crore) last year.

Regulatory laws that would shape India’s crypto sector remain awaited as of now.

Meanwhile, Indian crypto players are introducing newer features like recurring buying plans to drive crypto adoption among Indians while batting for higher returns to the investors.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article. 

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