The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clamped down on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, directing all entities regulated by the central bank — mainly banks, finance companies and wallets — not to deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling virtual currencies, joining the global crackdown on trading of virtual coins.
Simultaneously, the RBI has constituted an inter-departmental group to study and provide guidance on the feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency. The report will be submitted by end-June 2018, RBI said.
Widely seen as a disruption for the traditional banking and financial institutions, cryptocurrencies have gained significant traction over the last half a decade, at the same time creating a regulatory nightmare for banking regulators across the globe. At present, there are around 969 cryptocurrencies in existence across the globe, with a total market capitalisation close to 116 Billion USD.
What are virtual/ cryptocurrencies?
Founded as a peer-to-peer electronic payment system, cryptocurrencies enable transfer of money between parties, without going through a banking system. These digital payment systems are based on cryptographic proof of the chain of transactions, deriving their name, Cryptocurrency. These employ cryptographic algorithms and functions to ensure anonymity (privacy) of the users (who are identified by an alphanumeric public key), security of the transactions and integrity of the payment systems.