It was early April 2018, when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiated the ban on cryptocurrencies through all entities it regulated.
“It has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time. A circular in this regard is being issued separately,” the RBI stated at the time as they underlined that cryptocurrencies could “seriously undermine the AML (anti-money laundering) and FATF (Financial Action Task Force) framework.”
The deadline for the institutions to implement the decision was until Thursday, July 5, but the situation took, and still is taking, some unexpected turns.
On April 22nd, the petition, filed by Kali Digital Eco-Systems as a part of Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), was passed to a supreme court of the country. It challenged the RBI’s decision on several grounds.
“Under Article 19(1) (g) of the Indian constitution, every citizen is allowed to enjoy the right to carry on any occupation, trade, or business. Under Article 14, the discrimination is prohibited, while it mandates equal protection under the law for all.”
However, the supreme court’s decision made on July 3rd found the appeals to be unfounded.
“This is a win for the RBI and a big blow to virtual currency exchanges and traders,” stated Rashmi Deshpande, associate partner at Khaitan & Co, a law firm representing Kali Digital Eco-Systems, at the time.
However, Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) persisted in their efforts to turn the tide. “We had submitted a detailed presentation that could have given RBI a clearer picture on what is blockchain, how the exchanges work, etc. But we hadn’t heard back from them yet,” said Nischal Shetty, founder, and CEO of WazirX, another Indian cryptocurrency exchange that has challenged the ban. “Today, the supreme court has also directed the RBI to respond to those representations made by the firms in the next seven days,” he informed the public.
Managing partner at TRA Law, Anirudh Rastogi called the ban “unconstitutional at various levels.” He further stated that “know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) verification should be enough to prevent illicit activity.”
The given week has passed, and the awaiting party got the response in form of the sudden change of opinion.
The anonymous senior government official was quoted by Quartz Media saying, “I don’t think anyone is really thinking of banning it (cryptocurrencies) altogether. The issue here is about regulating the trade, and we need to know where the money is coming from,” the official declared. “Allowing it as a commodity may let us better regulate trade, and so that is being looked at,” he concluded.
Following the debate, the former RBI deputy governor said: “If these (cryptocurrencies) are used to settle transactions, then it acquires the nature of currency. So that is one thing that one needs to be wary of.” However, he left the room for the discussion about the very nature of the assets by stating that “if people want to invest in a commodity then that is different because then we can assume that they are aware of the risks involved.”
With all being said, at least one side seams to be willing to collaborate for the higher good, which can be more than understood from the Shubham Yadav’s (co-founder of Coindelta, which is also a part of IAMAI) comment.
“We are also ready to work with the government and assist them on creating a regulatory framework,” he said. “We can help them in designing a monitoring system for blockchain where it can remotely monitor all transactions,” Yadav concluded, clearly opening the door for the cooperation of two momentarily opposed sides.