Cryptocurrency is creating a lot of buzz these days. It is getting popular and gaining acceptance at various levels. In India, cryptocurrency cannot be labelled as completely legal or illegal. It is kind of a grey area. So, analyzing the cryptocurrency industry in India becomes crucial.
In this article, we will discuss about cryptocurrency industry in India. We have brought you the cryptocurrency market insights, legal issues, and its future in India.
So let’s begin…
“Bitcoin is exciting me because it shows how cheap transactions can be” -Bill Gates
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital currency based on a blockchain platform that has been named crypto as it verifies transactions through encryptions. However, it is not any normal digital currency that you may use to pay your bills.
There are two major differences. First, it is decentralized i.e. it is not controlled by any government or third party. This means that all the transactions are made independently not relying on banks. Thus, the value of cryptocurrency does not get affected due to any geopolitical problem.
Second, it is only available in a limited amount i.e. the amount of crypto of any particular cryptocurrency is predetermined. It will never change. For example, the limit for bitcoin is 21 million. So, there will always be only 21 million bitcoins in the world.
Cryptocurrencies are generated through a process known as mining. Thereafter, they can be stored or spent through crypto-wallets. These wallets let you exchange crypto for any particular currency. They also allow you to make payments at places where cryptocurrency is accepted.
Some people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk support cryptocurrency. As per them, it is much better and more secure than physical money. Also, it holds great value for the future.
On the other hand, some people like Warren Buffett and Ajay Banga, consider it a bane to the world economy. They feel that cryptocurrency is the platform for criminal activities.
This actually makes us think is it actually a safe platform? This is especially important when no government or bank is involved for guarantee.
So, let’s take a look at its safety measures.
The transfer or purchase of cryptocurrency is guarded by cryptography. This means that advanced coding is used to safeguard the storage and transaction data. Thus, it is almost impossible to hack this currency. This makes crypto quite a secure platform.
Moreover, blockchain technology maintains distributed ledgers across a network of computers. The records of transactions are automatically updated in the systems of currency holders. This enhances traceability and visibility.
Anyways, cryptocurrency is not a tangible asset. However, it can be called a digital asset. Its applications are still being explored and expanded in financial terms.
Crypto charts represent the price history, volumes, and time intervals of the digital currencies, in graphical format. These are meant to help investors in making better decisions by picking equities and commodities.
Usually, a chart known as the Japanese candlestick chart is used by crypto traders. The colour, shape, and size of the candles in the chart are used as indicators. For example, a red candle is an indicator that the closing price was lower than the starting price. Similarly, a green candle represents that the closing price was higher than the starting price. The specified time frame is demonstrated in the graph.
Analyzing the Crypto Industry in India
As per a report by the Economic Times almost 20 million people invested in cryptocurrency in India, in 2021. Currently, Indian investors hold cryptocurrency worth about $5.3 billion.
The bitcoins touched their all-time highs in 2021, touching a mark of $63,729 on April 3. This has encouraged many small investors from India to focus on cryptocurrency. If the experience and sources of these investors are to be believed, the future of money lies in cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin was the first and most popular cryptocurrency, launched in 2009. It was later followed by other cryptocurrencies named Ethereum, Solana, Dogecoin, Polygon, etc.
In India, CoinSwitch Kuber is the biggest cryptocurrency exchange platform. It has recently touched 14 million users and registered a rise of 3500% in the transaction volume. The leading exchange apps WazirX and BitBns have also witnessed a growth of 1735% and 849%, respectively.
This data certainly speaks a lot in itself. The popularity of cryptocurrency is rising in India and appears to keep rising in the future as well. Also, owing to more number of buyers the demand for cryptocurrency is increasing. This has led to a several-fold hike in its price.
The cost of a bitcoin was about $0.008 – $0.08 in 2009 when it was launched. However, the present cost of a bitcoin is about $40,0000. Further, looking at the pace at which its value is increasing, more people are turning towards this form of investment.
Is Cryptocurrency Legal in India?
On April 6, 2018, RBI imposed a ban on trading in cryptocurrency. However, on March 4, 2020, Supreme Court quashed this ban. Post this decision, RBI has taken back its earlier circular and has urged the banks to follow the decision of the apex court.
The Reserve Bank of India is responsible for managing currency and money transfers in the country. So far, the bank has supported the ban on investment in cryptocurrency. As per RBI, these investments would adversely affect macroeconomic stability.
As per RBI Deputy Governor, T Rabi Sankar, cryptocurrencies do not pass the basic scrutiny. Therefore, it will never be legalized in India. On the question of advanced economies not banning crypto, he said, most cryptocurrencies are valued in dollars and thus, do not pose any threat to convertible currencies of these countries. However, some people refer to it as the statist approach. It is assumed that if private cryptocurrencies are launched in India, RBI would lose the hold.
Presently, RBI is also set to launch their Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in 2022-23. It will be a digital legal tender issued by the Central Bank. It will be the same as fiat currency, only in a different form. It will be exchangeable with fiat currency.
In Union Budget, 2022, cryptocurrency was given legal sanction, virtually. While presenting the finance bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not refer to crypto as a “currency”. However, she someway gave it a legal status by labelling it as “digital assets”.
She has stated that this decision was taken in light of the phenomenal increase in the frequency and magnitude of transactions. This has ended the uncertainty over the future of cryptocurrency in India.
A heavy tax of 30% has been imposed on the income generated through crypto transactions. Also, this tax cannot be claimed for deduction. In addition, to keep track of transactions 1% TDS will be charged on the payments made using digital assets.
However, since this declaration, a number of questions have been raised. This is because the budget does not talk about regulations of crypto exchanges or investor protection. Also, how can government impose a tax without bringing the Cryptocurrency bill to legalize it?
All-in-all, the government has still not cleared the legal status of cryptocurrency in India.
Future of Cryptocurrency in India
As per Purushottam Anand, Founder of blockchain law firm Crypto legal, “Taxing income from cryptocurrencies does not necessarily and explicitly legalize cryptocurrencies because income tax is not concerned about the manner or means of acquiring the income.” However, tax provisions for cryptocurrencies can be a step towards legalization.
Prime Minister Modi, in his speech at the “Summit for Democracy” organized by the U.S in 2021 has stated that world leaders must jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrency. It would help in utilizing these to empower democracy.
Also, while speaking at the virtually organized India-Central Asia summit, Prime Minister has urged a common approach to cryptocurrency.
Further, the general approach of India is going with the majority. As the majority of countries especially advanced economies are favouring this innovation, it is expected that India too will legalize it in the future.
The investment in cryptocurrency has enhanced several folds in India since last year. Even though the legal status is still unclear, it appears that the investors are not bothered by it.
Further, the cryptocurrency banning bill, due for the last winter session, has not been proposed by the government. Moreover, Finance bill-2022 has imposed a 30% tax on the income generated through crypto investment. This appears to be a good sign for the future of cryptocurrency in India.
Overall, it can be said that although the cryptocurrency industry in India is expanding tailing uncertainties cannot be denied.
Is cryptocurrency legal in India?
Crypotuccureny is not a legal tender in India nor it is banned by the Indian government.
Is crypto taxable in India?
Yes, income from Crypto and NFTs are taxed at 30%.
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