Bitcoin pioneer and the founder of BitInstant & Bitcoin Foundation feels that India has the potential to become one of the largest crypto industries in the world. In an interview with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an Indian billionaire and Member of Parliament, he found out that the Indian government is not entirely against crypto – but it will take some time before it joins the crypto party.
How is the Rise of Crypto Different From That of the Internet?
India is a country which is still grappling with the issue of how to regulate cryptocurrencies – to ban them or not to ban them. The central bank of the country, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), imposed a banking ban on crypto last year and since then, a lot of cryptocurrency startups have either shifted their base out of the country or closed operations. There have been numerous Supreme Court hearings around the ban, but so far, no resolution has been reached.
Bitcoin pioneer Charlie Shrem recently interviewed Indian billionaire and politician, Rajeev Chandrasekhar to discuss the situation of crypto in India. One of the topics discussed was how the rise of cryptocurrencies is different from the early internet in the last two decades of the 20th century. To that, Chandrasekhar said that during the early days of the internet, there were no regulators to check the internet. But, the internet is far more evolved now, and regulators in the internet space are already involved in all the developments that are concerned with the internet. He says,
“But, in this case, in the crypto space, is given… There’s almost like a perfect storm that is facing the growth and the innovation momentum of crypto. Which is, you have the law and order and the terrorism, and the cyber security concerns on one hand, and you have the particularly heightened awareness about the internet not being all good, and having some potential of these little evil pockets of sort of resting within them. And therefore, the regulators using that as justification to, sort of, snoop around or get more involved.”
Charlie Shrem agreed with Chandrasekhar and mentioned the “India Wants Crypto” movement which had got millions of impressions. He remarked that the Indian government was just trying to protect people, but on the other hand, the government had also not tried to involve crypto supporters in developing regulations around cryptocurrencies. Shrem then asked Chandrasekhar if going to be regulations around crypto in India, the way they had been developed when cellular technology had made it to the country.
To this, Chandrasekhar responded that the “policy framework and our ability architecture is really playing catch-up”.
India Played Safe by Shutting the Door on Crypto
Shrem commented that the crypto community across the world was growing India had the power to become one of the largest crypto industries in the world. He then asked Chandrasekhar about why did RBI take the stance of banning crypto.
To this, Chandrasekhar responded that it was hard for the government or anyone in the public space to respond to the problems posed by cryptocurrencies with the same kind of efficiency as the innovators in that space. Therefore, they made an instinctive response by “bolting it into some room and shutting the door.” He also expressed his displeasure at the way things were handled on that front.
“It is not the way that, I would like it. I would not want innovation to be trampled by a paranoid approach to regulation. Because, paranoid approach to regulation just means let’s… You know, safest way to handle things is just shut the door on everything, and just say no innovation, and nobody will be worried about anything except in the consumer room, who suffer with limited choice in terms of innovation.”
Indian Govt. Will Join the Crypto Party Eventually
On the topic of how the government was going to tackle the issue of regulating cryptocurrency, Chandrasekhar cited the example of how the present government had dealt with the issue of net neutrality and how it had decided to not distort the free and open nature of the internet because a few telecoms wanted it. Chandrasekhar said that the government was going to deal with this issue too like any other issue. He even encouraged crypto enthusiasts to talk to him and have confidence in his ability to present their views to people in the government to persuade them to do the “right thing”.
“So, that conversation applies even to crypto, and I think, it is in sort of making this about government versus innovators, I actively encourage people to come sit with me, and believe in my ability to articulate their positions, and their points of view to people in government and their leadership of the government, and hopefully persuade them to do the right thing.”
He also expressed that the biggest issue the government with cryptocurrency was crypto’s association with unaccounted wealth, a problem that India had been struggling with for several decades.
“So, when you talk about crypto, the natural concern, or paranoia, would be, by creating this, are we going back? Or are we moving, transitioning from a cash economy, cash black economy to something that is even less traceable, and more difficult to crack. Because, cash is, at the end of the day, you can always, you know, go to somebody’s house and find out stacks of cash, currency also been piling up there, or not. This is, a lot more sophisticated, and definitely not something that a normal constable on the beat can pick up on, so.”
Shrem then questioned Chandrasekhar about how what percentage of politicians had a crypto-friendly stance. To this, Chandrasekhar responded –
“You can safely assume that, a lot of the government and members of parliament will come a little late to that party and they will, sort of eventually get there,”
Do you think that the Indian government will eventually accept crypto? Or will the banking ban on crypto turn into a strict blanket ban? Share your views with us in the comments!