Count India among the countries bolstering regulator scrutiny of digital currencies. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said Thursday it is banning India’s regulated financial institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies.
“In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling [virtual currencies],” said RBI, India’s central bank, in a statement.
Bitcoin prices were lower by less than 1% at this writing, but that does not mean the RBI news is not potentially impactful. India is the world’s second-largest country by population and Asia’s third-largest economy, statistics underscoring a potentially massive and lucrative market for digital currencies.
India’s “tax department sent notices about cryptocurrency investing to tens of thousands of citizens after a national survey showed more than $3.5 billion worth of transactions have been conducted over a 17-month period,” according to CNBC.
India is the latest country to strike a harsh regulatory tone regarding digital currencies. In the U.S., the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has repeatedly warned investors about the dangers of some initial coin offerings (ICOs). Additionally, the SEC has yet to approve bitcoin-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) and has also prevented companies and fund issuers from using “blockchain” in their names.
Last month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency warned cryptocurrency exchange operators there that they must have licenses to operate in Japan. Japan recognizes bitcoin as legal tender, but India does not.
“Virtual Currencies (VCs), also variously referred to as crypto currencies and crypto assets, raise concerns of consumer protection, market integrity and money laundering, among others,” said RBI. “Reserve Bank has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies.”
RBI has a more sanguine view on blockchain, the technology underpinning digital currency transactions.
“Technological innovations, including those underlying virtual currencies, have the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system,” said the Indian central bank.
RBI is also expected to release a report in June regarding the feasibility of introducing a central bank digital currency.
Cardano founder, Charles Hoskinson speaks on the future of Bitcoin and taking profits
Charles Hoskinson has always been a huge advocate for decentralized finance and building a network that could provide solutions to the problems with our current financial and banking systems. In this recent AMA Charles speaks out on his view about the issues that Bitcoin faces as well as reminding everyone that cryptocurrency isn’t all about taking profits.
Despite Charles Hoskinson open criticisms of Bitcoin he does say:
“I would still be working on Bitcoin if Bitcoin could evolve”
PayPal’s crypto trading goes live in the US!
Customers will be able to trade up to $20,000 a week, rather than the originally announced $10,000.
On Thursday, PayPal’s crypto trading and payments went live for all eligible customers in the United States.
Per its updated announcement, PayPal ended its waitlist for customers looking to use cryptocurrency in the U.S. Trading features a limit of $20,000 per week, which is double the originally announced $10,000.
PayPal ultimately plans to make crypto payments available at 26 million merchants globally.
A representative said that PayPal will notify U.S. customers about the general availability of crypto services in the coming days.
Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, noted that the shift to supporting crypto was driven by what he sees as an “inevitable” drift toward virtual currencies.
“The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable, bringing with it clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access; efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system; and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly.”
Much-anticipated global services are expected to launch at the beginning of 2021, alongside crypto payments on Venmo. PayPal initially announced its plans to integrate crypto three weeks ago. The announcement led to a boost in BTC price.
As part of its crypto services, PayPal received the first conditional Bitlicense from the New York Department of Financial Services, one of the most hawkish sub-national financial regulators in the U.S. Many noted that the terms of PayPal’s crypto services would entail that coins bought on the platform would not be able to leave, likely as part of its compromise with regulators in bringing crypto services to such a wide user base.
PayPal Allows Bitcoin And Crypto Spending
PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, announcing that its customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and other virtual currencies using their PayPal accounts.
Those virtual coins could then be used to buy things from the 26 million sellers which accept PayPal, it said.
PayPal plans to roll out buying options in the US over the next few weeks, with the full rollout due early next year.
Bitcoin prices rose alongside the news, breaking the $12,000 (£9,170) mark.
The other cryptocurrencies to be added first will be Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash (a spin-off from Bitcoin).
All could be stored “directly within the PayPal digital wallet”, the company said.
Cryptocurrencies have remained a niche payment method, partly down to the rapid change in prices they can experience compared with traditional state-backed currencies. That has made them popular among some types of investors.
PayPal said it was aiming “to increase consumer understanding and adoption of cryptocurrency”.
“As part of this offering, PayPal will provide account holders with educational content to help them understand the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” it said.
But David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain and the forthcoming Libra Shrugged: How Facebook Tried to Take Over the Money, said PayPal was describing “a crypto day-trading market”.
“I’m at a loss as to who the market is for PayPal as a crypto-exchange,” he said.
He likened it to playing the stock market, but with Bitcoin – whose volatile and less well-regulated nature was like “gambling on penny stocks”.
“Have a flutter, drop $10 on it, you’ll learn things you wouldn’t learn any other way – but you are gambling,” he warned.
He said there were “a lot of big players who manipulate the price”, and ordinary people risked losing their money.
“I don’t expect much of a market for this beyond existing crypto holders… I’m baffled that PayPal would offer this, and it’s not clear what they’re trying to do here,” he said.
“There must be someone at PayPal who is very interested in cryptocurrencies,” he added.
Paying with crypto
Other payment firms, such as Square’s Cash app and Revolut, have already offered cryptocurrencies for sale. But PayPal has one of the largest merchant networks in the world.
When it comes to using the virtual coins, PayPal will convert the cryptocurrency into the relevant national currency, so the company being paid will never receive the virtual coins – just the correct amount of pounds or dollars.
PayPal said the system meant there would be “certainty of value and no incremental fees”.
But using Bitcoin to pay at ordinary merchants is not due to launch until “early 2021”.
Cryptocurrencies’ volatile prices – along with their historical use as a less traceable payment method for illegal purposes – have led to numerous calls for them to be regulated.
PayPal has been granted permission for its operation from the New York State Department of Financial Services, in the form of a conditional “Bitlicence” – the first such licence granted.
To begin with, the service will work with an existing cryptocurrency provider in the US, the Paxos Trust Company.
But it is not PayPal’s first venture into the area.
The firm was once a partner in Facebook’s digital currency Libra, but became the first to pull out of the alliance, just a few months after it was announced.
The scheme was controversial, attracting attention from financial regulators in several countries.
Earlier this year, Facebook was reported to be “rethinking” the idea amid the resistance.