Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India, 18 October 2016. Shutterstock

India’s government could soon pass a legislation that will outlaw the trading, mining, issuance and possession of cryptocurrency in the country, Reuters reported on 15 March.

Citing an anonymous senior government official, Reuters said India’s crypto ban bill is in its final stages, and if passed into law will criminalise the possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring of crypto assets in the country. The official further said the legislation will likely receive the necessary votes to pass due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s majority-controlled parliament.

The unnamed official also stated that once enacted, the legislation will give Indian crypto traders six months to dispose of their crypto assets before any penalties are applied. This report matches the one given in February, when again an anonymous source — claiming to be a senior Indian Finance Ministry official — claimed India is about to prohibit the use of cryptocurrency in the country. The situation was made even more confusing by a statement made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who said on 15 March:

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“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options. We will allow certain windows for people to do experiments on the blockchain, bitcoins or cryptocurrency.”

Despite the threat of a ban, the crypto industry continues to grow in India, with industry estimates showing that 8 million investors now have 100 billion rupees (around $1.4 billion) in crypto investments. Indian crypto investor Sumnesh Salodkar told Reuters that:

“The money is multiplying rapidly every month and you don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines. Even though people are panicking due to the potential ban, greed is driving these choices.”

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