India’s cryptocurrency reckoning is overdue

A more straightforward argument for allowing crypto to exist is simply to avoid driving the flourishing trade underground

  
Imae used for illustrative purpose A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021.

Imae used for illustrative purpose A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021.

REUTERS/Edgar Su

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

MUMBAI - A barrage of misleading prime-time adverts and little attempt to educate first-time investors scattered across small towns are some of the problems surrounding cryptocurrencies in India. A government plan to present a bill on regulation prompted panic-selling of digital assets earlier this week. The volatility underscores the need for a rapid decision on whether India wants to embrace them or not.

The sexy argument for regulation, rather than a ban, is made by Ashish Singhal, founder of Coinbase-backed CoinSwitch Kuber, a firm boasting some 12 million users and valued at $2 billion. His pitch targets New Delhi’s desire to ramp up exports, arguing that cryptocurrencies and their related technology like blockchain allow India to build digital-infrastructure companies today that rich countries will use in the future.

A more straightforward argument for allowing crypto to exist is simply to avoid driving the flourishing trade underground. Either way, as this week’s ructions demonstrated, a belated ban will be painful to swallow. (By Una Galani)

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

(Editing by Antony Currie and Katrina Hamlin) ((SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: https://bit.ly/BVsubscribe))


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