‘Cryptocurrency a risky area, Bill to be tabled soon’: Sitharaman in Rajya Sabha

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Cryptocurrencies are among the most talked-about topics in recent days and its regulation Bill has been much-anticipated by investors in India.Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that the Centre would introduce a Bill on cryptocurrency as soon as the Cabinet approves it. Speaking at the chaotic proceedings of the Rajya Sabha during Parliament’s Winter Session, the finance minister said that cryptocurrency is “a risky area” which does not have a complete regulatory framework.

The statement by the finance minister came during Question Hour when Bihar’s BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi asked if the government was planning to ban “misleading advertisements” for the time being.

Modi pointed out that last time, too, the cryptocurrency regulation Bill was mentioned in the bulletin but it did not come into the House.

“This is a risky area and not in a complete regulatory framework. No decision was taken on banning its advertisements. Steps are taken to create awareness through RBI and SEBI. The government will soon introduce a Bill once the Cabinet clears it,” Sitharaman replied.

Regarding the regulation of non fungible tokens (NFT), Sitharaman said that it was still being discussed with the government. For the unversed, NFTs are digital tokens representing a wide range of one-of-a-kind tangible items — from a jpeg file, music file, video clip to anything else that can be stored digitally.

The hype surrounding cryptocurrency has also led to a boom for the NFT market around the globe. However, the finance minister said that in order to avoid undesirable activities, crypto trades are being closely monitored. “Investors have been cautioned,” she replied to Modi.

The ‘Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021’ is among 26 new Bills on the government’s agenda for the Winter Session of the Parliament, which seeks to “create a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the RBI”.

The Bill has been among of the most anticipated ones in the Winter Session this year, apart from the landmark Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021.

The Bill is particularly important as it seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, and allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.