Country’s largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has asked its customers to ignore its email communication that cautioned them against dealing in virtual currencies.
In an email communication the bank said, “We wish to update you that in the light of the advisory issued by RBI…dated May 31, 2021, on ‘Customer Due Diligence for transactions in Virtual Currencies’, we request you to ignore our earlier communication dated May 28, 2021.” “Inconvenience caused is regretted.”
This communication from the bank comes after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday clarified that banks can no longer cite its circular on cryptocurrencies for not offering such products to customers, but said the lenders must adhere to local rules, which are quite exclusionary.
Many other private lenders had also sent emails to customers cautioning them about dealing in virtual currencies citing the RBI's 2018 circular.
The central bank, in its circular dated April 6, 2018, had prohibited banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies or offering any service to customers on them. The circular was challenged in the Supreme Court, which set aside the rules on 4 March, 2020. However, the RBI said, banks continue to cite the 2018 circular by the RBI in order to justify why they are not offering any services on cryptocurrencies.
“In view of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the circular is no longer valid from the date of the Supreme Court judgement, and therefore cannot be cited or quoted from,” the RBI said in a clarification on its website.
However, the central bank also cautioned banks that they must still continue to carry out customer due diligence processes “in line with regulations governing standards for Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and obligations of regulated entities under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, (PMLA), 2002 in addition to ensuring compliance with relevant provisions under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for overseas remittances.”
This essentially means that banks can offer services to the customers, but they will have to go through a whole lot of checks and balances before doing so, including ensuring the funds are not used for money laundering or financing terrorism. Since cryptocurrencies are not backed by central banks and are decentralised by nature, finding the end-use would be difficult.