The committee appointed by the government last year to examine issues related to cryptocurrency has submitted its report and examining pros and cons including launching of its own crypto currency, said a top legal affair ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event.
Mr Anadee Nath Mishra, additional secretary, Department of legal affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice said the government is also looking into the allegations that people who had black money had diverted the same to crypto-currencies in India during the period of demonetisation.
It was reported that during the period of demonetisation lakhs of people had used the illegal money in bitcoins and that's main factors attributed for sudden increase in the prices of bitcoins. The government is also examining the use of black money, said Mr Anadee Nath Mishra.
There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of virtual currencies (VCs) including bitcoin, in India and globally. The VCs don't have intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of bitcoin and other VCs therefore is a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is real risk of investment bubble of the type in ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard earned money. Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such ponzi schemes, said Mr Mishra.
VCs are stored in digital/ electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack etc. which may also result in permanent loss of money.
As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal activities such as terror-funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering acts, added the additional secretary.
He said, there was report that people who couldn't convert their money use this channel to launder their illegal money and it could have been one of the reasons for sudden rise in the value of bitcoins. The Income Tax (IT) department has also carried out enquiries and notices have been given to numbers of people who have transacted in bitcoins and have been asked to make payment of taxes if they had made any profit out of it.
The policy of government of India is extreme cautious right now but we are actually calling it illegal but there is always difference between legality and tax availability, said Mr Mishra.
H. E. Mr Augusto Montiel, Ambassador, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said, blockcahin technology can bring positive change in quality, efficiency and productivity. Blockchain technology enables a strong authentication process. He said, Venezuela is currently working on an oil-backed crypto currency called Petro.
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