NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that the government has no information about the number of cryptocurrency exchanges being operated in India or if the money is used in drug trafficking or money laundering.
In Rajya Sabha, MP and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi asked about the number of cryptocurrency exchanges operational in the country and the number of investors linked to the same.
“This information is not collected by the government,” Sitharaman said in her response.
She also added that the finance ministry has received no information on whether some of these exchanges are involved in narcotic drug trafficking or money laundering. This is interesting to note as the government has earlier expressed its reservations against cryptocurrency by citing its use in money laundering, drug trafficking and even terrorism.
So far, the stance of Indian government on cryptocurrencies remains unclear. Earlier it had a stance to ‘ban all private cryptocurrencies. But last year the finance minister warmed up to the idea of cryptocurrency by showing a more flexible approach. However, it is still facing resistance from its own revenue department and most importantly from the Reserve Bank of India, which had been firm on its stance regarding the virtual currency.
That was the reason the Cryptocurrency Bill, which was originally listed for the Budget session held from February to March, was not tabled at the time, causing some worries amongst the industry stakeholders. Also this session there was no mention of this among a number of bills, which is to be tabled in the Parliament during the monsoon session.
Sources from the finance ministry have added that this is “not on top of the government agenda and can wait for a few months”.According to data from independent crypto exchanges, there are approximately 1.5 crore Indians who have invested in cryptocurrencies holding worth Rs 15,000 crore, with roughly about 350 startups that operate in the blockchain and crypto space.