India signals ban on cryptocurrencies, embraces blockchain

Doubles spending on digitisation efforts – and tariffs on electronics


Updated India has vowed to ban the use of cryptocurrencies within its borders, it appears.

News of the clampdown was delivered by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his annual budget speech (PDF) delivered on Thursday.

“The government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system,” Jaitley said at paragraph 112 of the speech.

So, er, is that a crackdown on cryptoassets used for illegal purposes, or a crackdown on cryptoassets used for illegal purposes and legal payment systems? And what about not considering it legal tender?

The ambiguous statement has been widely interpreted as an upcoming blanket ban on digital cash, although crypto-coin investors and exchanges are holding on dear to the interpretation that India will only be going after cryptoassets used in unlawful activities.

In his speech, Jaitley added “the government will explore use of block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy.” The minister also announced more money for the digital economy: it’ll get double the funding this year at 3,073 crore (about US$500m).

All three positions are consistent with government policy.

GOES-16 Earth with Moon

India to launch moon mission in March 2018

READ MORE

In recent years India has made two big reforms. 2016’s effort was “demonetisastion” and saw large banknotes invalidated. In 2017 India introduced a single sales tax covering the nation, replacing state-based sales taxes that saw charges levied at borders between states. Both were efforts to crimp the cash economy and broadening India’s tax base.

Refusing to allow cryptocurrency transactions will probably achieve the same goals, given the anonymity such instruments afford.

India is also digitising government services at speed. Jaitey also noted the utility of blockchain, as have a great many others, so the fact India hopes to put it to work is anodyne.

Another budget measure that won’t surprise India-watchers is a proposal to increase customs duty on mobile phones and smart watches from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, and to double tariffs on some electronic components. Jaitey pitched those hikes as job creation measures, a clear reference to the “Make In India” that encourages global companies to bring some of their manufacturing efforts to the nation. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Heart FM's borkfast show – a fine way to start your day

    Jamie and Amanda have a new co-presenter to contend with

    There can be few things worse than Microsoft Windows elbowing itself into a presenting partnership, as seen in this digital signage for the Heart breakfast show.

    For those unfamiliar with the station, Heart is a UK national broadcaster with Global as its parent. It currently consists of a dozen or so regional stations with a number of shows broadcast nationally. Including a perky breakfast show featuring former Live and Kicking presenter Jamie Theakston and Britain's Got Talent judge, Amanda Holden.

    Continue reading
  • Think your phone is snooping on you? Hold my beer, says basic physics

    Information wants to be free, and it's making its escape

    Opinion Forget the Singularity. That modern myth where AI learns to improve itself in an exponential feedback loop towards evil godhood ain't gonna happen. Spacetime itself sets hard limits on how fast information can be gathered and processed, no matter how clever you are.

    What we should expect in its place is the robot panopticon, a relatively dumb system with near-divine powers of perception. That's something the same laws of physics that prevent the Godbot practically guarantee. The latest foreshadowing of mankind's fate? The Ethernet cable.

    By itself, last week's story of a researcher picking up and decoding the unintended wireless emissions of an Ethernet cable is mildly interesting. It was the most labby of lab-based demos, with every possible tweak applied to maximise the chances of it working. It's not even as if it's a new discovery. The effect and its security implications have been known since the Second World War, when Bell Labs demonstrated to the US Army that a wired teleprinter encoder called SIGTOT was vulnerable. It could be monitored at a distance and the unencrypted messages extracted by the radio pulses it gave off in operation.

    Continue reading
  • What do you mean you gave the boss THAT version of the report? Oh, ****ing ****balls

    Say what you mean

    NSFW Who, Me? Ever written that angry email and accidentally hit send instead of delete? Take a trip back to the 1990s equivalent with a slightly NSFW Who, Me?

    Our story, from "Matt", flings us back the best part of 30 years to an era when mobile telephones were the preserve of the young, upwardly mobile professionals and fixed lines ruled the roost for more than just your senior relatives.

    Back then, Matt was working for a UK-based fixed-line telephone operator. He was dealing with a telephone exchange which served a relatively large town. "I ran a reasonably ordinary, read-only command to interrogate a specific setting," he told us.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021