India's Internet Association ends crypto advocacy to do something more productive

Namely working on a central bank digital currency


The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has dissolved its subcommittee dedicated to crypto-boosterism after deciding it should focus its resources elsewhere.

The decision means the end for the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BCAC) – an organisation that formed in 2019 and aimed to create a regulated ecosystem for crypto in India.

Doing so proved too challenging for the IAMAI which last week issued a statement explaining the closure as necessary "in light of the fact that a resolution of the regulatory environment for the industry is still very uncertain and that the association would like to utilize its limited resources for other emerging digital sectors, which make a more immediate and direct contribution to digital India, notably, deepening financial inclusion and promoting a central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC)," the statement read.

The IAMAI and India's government departments at all levels are deeply bought in to startup-driven tech innovation, and the BCAC was no exception. For the IAMAI to have decided it's better off focusing on the Digital Rupee – which remains on the drawing board – is therefore unexpected.

It's also explicable, given current global uncertainty around the future of cryptocurrencies and India's decision to tax crypto profits at twice the rate applied to capital gains on other assets.

Indian crypto outfits have lamented the end of the Council, with ideas already afoot for a replacement.

NASSCOM, India's formidable tech trade association and advocacy group, is already actively promoting crypto, so the sector still has friends in influential places.

One of those places is not, however, Russia. The superpower wannabe last week passed a law the title of which translates as "Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Regulating the Circulation of Digital Financial Assets and Utilitarian Digital Rights."

The law bars the use of cryptocurrency and NFTs for payments and prohibits licensed participants in the nation's financial system from allowing such transactions.

It is unclear why the Kremlin and its masters are Putin the boot in to crypto. Pundits have suggested read-only techno-rubles could be an instrument that might help Moscow evade the many sanctions imposed because of its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

On the other hand, autocrats are seldom keen on economic activity they can't observe, but which their enemies can. Cryptocurrency anonymity has been largely debunked, and Moscow can exercise far more control over domestic banks than the globally distributed decentralized finance community. ®

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