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Indian government awaits cryptocurrency report from expert committee

Following the recent warning on cryptocurrencies issued by the Indian Ministry of Finance, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday underscored the lack of mechanism to prevent the misuse of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups and other anti-national elements, The New Indian Express reported.

Speaking on the floor of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, Jaitley said that cryptocurrencies lack the backing of the state and operate with a “degree of anonymity.”

Last year, an inter-governmental panel was set up to look into the regulation of cryptocurrencies, both and locally and internationally. The government is currently awaiting the report from the expert group.

"The government is examining the matter. A Committee under the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Department Secretary is deliberating over all issues related to cryptocurrencies to propose specific actions to be taken... Instead of taking any knee-jerk action, let's wait for the report of this committee."

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have grabbed the attention of regulators all over the world, particularly after the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed to near $20,000 levels in December 2017. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued warning on cryptocurrencies twice last year.

Jaitley said that currently there are no legal protections for people engaging in cryptocurrency transactions as they do not fall under the scope of lawful legal tender.

"Since December 2013, the RBI and the government have consistently maintained that this (Bitcoin) is not a lawful legal tender in India. Therefore, no legal protection for the person dealing in it is available," he said.

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