Government to soon bring bill on crypto currencies

The government had formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee, which has given its report on issues related to virtual currencies.
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The government will soon bring a bill on crypto currencies, as existing laws are inadequate to deal with issues concerning them, Minister of State For Finance, Anurag Thakur, told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Replying to a question in the Upper House, Thakur said regulatory bodies like RBI and Sebi do not have any legal framework to directly regulate crypto currencies as they are not currencies, assets, securities or commodities issued by identifiable users.

"The existing laws are inadequate to deal with the subject," he said.

The government had formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee which has given its report on issues related to virtual currencies. There was also a meeting of the Empowered Technology Group. The Committee of Secretaries chaired by the Cabinet Secretary has also given its report.

"A bill (on crypto currencies) is being finalised and it will soon be sent to the Cabinet. We will soon be bringing a bill," Thakur said.

In view of the risks associated with Virtual Currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through a circular in April 2018, had advised all the entities regulated by it not to deal in VCs or provide services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling VCs.

However, Supreme Court, vide judgement dated March 4, 2020, had set aside the RBI's circular.

To another question regarding Chinese companies in the country, the minister said as of now, there are around 92 companies registered in the country. Out of them, 80 Chinese companies are actively working in India.

In another development, Tesla has opened the possibility of accepting bitcoins as payments for its products and has already bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency.

The electric vehicles maker, in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said bitcoin would provide more flexibility to further diversify and maximise returns on its products. The decision to accept bitcoins in exchange for its products is also subject to certain applicable laws and it is very unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

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