Indian Internet ‘Blockchain Committee’ Attracts Reps From Zebpay, MasterCard, Microsoft

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is forming a dedicated focus group for blockchain exploration made up of both big business and cryptocurrency players, Indian daily newspaper Economic Times reported Monday, Oct. 15.

Confirmed in a tweet Tuesday, the IAMAI, whose remit is to “expand and enhance” the online and mobile sector, will use its “Blockchain Committee” to “identify opportunities and challenges and work with government, industry and startups” to develop a blockchain “ecosystem.”

The move comes amid testing times for cryptocurrency in India, with the country’s supreme court still deliberating on the legality of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) cryptocurrency banking ban it instigated in July.

Commenting on the plans, Tina Singh, chair of the newly-founded Blockchain Committee, said the technology was nonetheless “undoubtedly the technology of the future,” noting:

“The IAMAI Blockchain Committee will focus on creating dialogue between all stakeholders; curate and create content to aid skill development and move towards creating a participative economy with the usage of blockchain.”

Participants in the committee include major Indian cryptocurrency exchange ZebPay, itself a conspicuous victim of the central bank’s ban, having halted its exchange offering altogether late last month.

Other parties include representatives from MasterCard, Microsoft and IBM.

The RBI itself is also “researching” blockchain, sources reported in August, as part of an assessment process in which it would “check what can be adopted and what cannot.”

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Indian State Embraces Blockchain Technology to Mitigate Fraud in Government


The Indian state of Telangana looks primed as a blockchain technology forerunner in the subcontinent. On July 26, 2018, state officials signed MoUs with various blockchain startups and consultants to augment the use of the burgeoning technology in administrative services.

Bringing Transparency to State Administration

As reported by Business Standard, Telangana’s I.T. and Industries head Jayesh Ranjan noted the implementation of blockchain technology in “six or seven” government applications. Earlier, the state had piloted blockchain-based land registry and pension platforms to bring transparency and mitigate fraud in the two middlemen-dominated businesses.

Rajan revealed migrating to blockchain-based platforms helps omit the opacity of governmental sectors by assisting citizens in tracking sensitive information and pinpointing the progress of essential applications.

However, Rajan did not name any area of implementation yet, rendering any presumptions as mere speculation.

Attracting Businesses

Meanwhile, Nucleus Vision founder Abhishek Pitti is organizing the International Blockchain Conference in Hyderabad on August 3, 2018. As stated on the website, the event features state governments of Telangana and Goa, as well as NITI Ayog, the country’s authoritative body on strategic planning in rural and urban areas.

Tim Draper is scheduled to speak at the event, along with political personalities and senior members from ICON, Binance, NEO, and Huobi.

It remains to be seen how the event affects the Indian government’s infamous disdain towards cryptocurrencies and related sectors, given the magnitude of speakers and businesses scheduled for the appearance.

Telangana’s Blockchain Push

Telangana is regarded in India as one of the most literate and forward-thinking states. The region’s capital city of Hyderabad is home to several I.T. and software firms, employing millions of highly-skilled engineers from across the world.

Embracing blockchain technology is an extension of the state’s technology push, as evidenced several times in the past.

As reported by CCN, Telangana’s blockchain-based land registry platform was regarded as one “where anyone can see who holds the land.” The protocol was merged with the state’s revenue department to ensure end-to-end transparency of records while maintaining the “integrity of the information.”

Interestingly, the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, one of the country’s premier educational institutions, was included in Ripple’s $50 million educational grant in June 2018, for increasing research and development in the areas of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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Blockchain May Add $5 Billion to Indian Economy In The Next Five Years, Expert Says

Distributed ledger technology may add $5 billion to Indian economy in the next five years, according to NASSCOM’s VP Industry Initiatives. The non-profit trade association, which represents the sector of software and services companies in the country, has backed blockchain technology for many years.

NASSCOM Promotes Blockchain In India for Its Potential for Economic Growth

KS Viswanathan, Vice President (Industry Initiative) at the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) told Indo-Asian News Services (IANS) that the underlying technology of Bitcoin et al. might lead to economic growth of up to $5 billion in the country before 2024 as it disrupts entire sectors of the economy by increasing productivity and transparency, as well as reducing costs.

“The Blockchain ecosystem is evolving in India. Creating awareness on how this technology is simpler and easier to use with the existing social media and Cloud technology can go a long way in helping the country realize its potential”, Viswanathan said, while pointing out a number of issues holding back the expansion of blockchain in the economy, such as the unavailability of skilled human resources and insufficient computing infrastructure. “There are currently just 20-30 good Blockchain startups in the country.”

The top official at NASSCOM, who is heading the association’s 10,000 Startups Initiative, called for more investment in blockchain startups to get the ecosystem ready to boost economic growth in the country. The need to create awareness of the technology in India has led NASSCOM to partner up with Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) of Canada in order to set up joint webinars and knowledge sharing, among other activities.

BRI is also collaborating with NASSCOM on the first Nasscom Industry Partnership Programme (NIPP) Blockchain challenge, which will result in a 36-hour session in Bangaluru, to be held on July 28-29, where new talents will work together to create innovative solutions with blockchain. The challenge will be an opportunity to raise awareness and develop blockchain know how, according to Viswanathan.

“Boosting skill levels, creating awareness on how this technology is simpler and easier to use with the existing social media and Cloud technology, organising multiple hackathons and getting international research papers on DLT published are among the priorities that Nasscom is focusing on to increase deployment of the technology.”

The non-profit launched a platform called FutureSkills with the aim of up-skilling two million employees and students in technologies, and instruct another two million over the next few years. The program will consider DLT as the 10th technological skill.

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Indian Government-Appointed Commission Recognizes Crypto as Means of Payment

Indian Government-Appointed Commission Recognizes Crypto as Means of Payment

Regulation

The law commission established by the order of the Indian government has issued a report recognizing cryptocurrency as a means of payment. This is reportedly the first time that a body appointed by the government admitted cryptocurrencies have value and can be used in transactions.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Government-Appointed Body Recognizes Crypto

Indian Government-Appointed Commission Recognizes Crypto as Means of PaymentThe Law Commission of India recently published a report on the legal framework for gambling and sports betting in India. The 140-page report explains that gambling is defined as the act of “wagering or betting on games of chance but does not include betting or wagering on games of skill.” Wagering and betting are subsequently defined as “the staking of money or virtual currency [VC], whether or not it is equivalent to a recognized currency.”

The commission was established by the order of the Indian government to advise them on legal reforms. It was asked by the country’s supreme court in July 2016 to examine if betting should be legalized in India.

According to the report:

The issue of online gambling has further been worsened by the rise in popularity and ease of availability of VC, a form of electronic money.

Indian Government-Appointed Commission Recognizes Crypto as Means of PaymentThe commission noted that gambling with cryptocurrencies “pushes even the online gambling market underground, and very often, out of the reach of the law enforcement authorities.”

While proposing that “stringent law(s) should be put in place to control foreign direct investment and at the same time, to prevent money laundering, while also implementing necessary tax reforms,” the commission wrote in the report’s conclusions and recommendations section:

Similar restrictions should also be prescribed for the purpose of the amount one would be allowed to stake while using electronic money facilities of the likes of credit cards, debit cards, net-banking, VCs, etc.

The report additionally states that “gambling transactions should be made cashless, making use of electronic means of payment such as credit cards, debit cards, net-banking, virtual currencies (VC – also known as cryptocurrency), etc.”

Implication of the Law Commission’s Report

Indian Government-Appointed Commission Recognizes Crypto as Means of PaymentThe report also cites the April 6 circular issued by the Indian central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), banning banks from providing services to crypto businesses.

Last week, the Indian supreme court heard some petitions relating to crypto regulation and the RBI ban. While the crypto community was hopeful that the court would hear all the petitions and perhaps even grant a temporary stay on the RBI ban, the court reportedly did not hear all the cases and proceeded to set the final hearing date to September 11, allowing time for RBI and other regulators involved to respond to the petition.

Commenting on the law commission’s proposal, Nischal Shetty, CEO of crypto exchange Wazirx, told Quartz:

It is the first time that a body appointed by the government has given recognition to virtual currencies that they have value and can be used for a transaction … Therefore, it is a very positive sign, especially considering the report has come out after a lot of deliberation.

Tuhina Joshi, an associate at legal firm TRA Law which represents several crypto exchanges, was quoted by the publication, “the law commission recommends that regulating gambling is preferable to an outright ban. This is the same argument we are making in context of cryptocurrencies.”

What do you think of the law commission’s proposal? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Indian State of Telangana to Sign MoUs With Blockchain Firms, Streamline Gov’t Services

The Indian state of Telangana announced it will sign several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with blockchain firms as to eventually implement the technology in state applications, local Indian news agency the Business Standard reports July 26.

Telangana IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan revealed that the state is planning to enter into MoUs with a number of blockchain-focused firms in order to implement the technology in “six or seven government applications.”

According to the government official, the measure aims to bring more transparency and efficiency to public services provided by the state. However, Ranjan did not specify what areas of state services would be affected by the upcoming blockchain deployments.

Speaking at an official press conference for the 1st edition of the International Blockchain Congress July 26, Ranjan claimed that the state is set to sign the agreements during the event.

The International Blockchain Congress will be held at Telangana’s capital Hyderabad from Aug. 3 till 4. The finishing day of the event is set to be hold in Goa on Aug. 5. The upcoming event is expected to be attended by more than 3,000 participants, featuring over 80 speakers including officials in regional governments and U.S. billionaire tech investor Tim Draper.

Draper re-entered the Indian market in February 2017, having left in 2016 due to an alleged lack of “rule of law,” prompting Draper Fisher Jurvetson to sell their entire Indian portfolio. While impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption initiatives in the country, the tech investor has criticized India’s negative stance on cryptocurrencies.

State and municipal governments have increasingly been adopting blockchain technology to make their operations more secure and efficient. On July 25, the Government of Catalonia revealed its plans to implement blockchain tech in all areas of public administration by the end of 2018. The Generalitat de Catalunya wants to promote the technology “with the aim of improving digital services to the public and promoting the potential of this technology between the Administration, companies and the citizen[s].”

Earlier this month, the Riyadh Municipality in Saudi Arabia, teamed up with tech giant IBM to develop a strategy for enhancing government services and transactions through the use of blockchain tech. The partnership was made in accordance with a decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to work on improving the quality of municipal services and integrate leading technologies as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program.

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Indian Law Commission Recognizes Cryptocurrency as an ‘Electronic Payment’: Report


The cryptocurrency ecosystem in India may have just found a lifeline, albeit an unlikely one.

According to a legal report released in July 2018, the country’s lawmakers are considering legalizing the multi-million dollar sports betting industry – naming cryptocurrencies as a legally acceptable payment method akin to credit and debit cards.

India Explores Cryptocurrencies in Sports Betting

Titled “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India,” the report explores the usage of digital payment mechanisms, including cryptocurrencies, as the country prepares to legalize the sports betting sector.

The report stems after police investigations into million-dollar betting allegations during the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches revealed fan-favorite celebrities and politicians used “black money” for placing their bets, superseding the government’s widespread, yet ineffective, crackdown on betting circles.

After observing this fallacy, judges of the Indian Supreme Court proposed the legalization of the sports betting market, while appointing the Lodha Committee to explore this suggestion further while collaborating with the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI).

The committee stated there is a subtle boundary between match-fixing and recreational betting, and the former could undoubtedly remain a legal offense while the latter could serve as a means of generating tax, after legal regulation.

Interesting, the law commision considered cryptocurrencies as a method of digital payment akin to credit cards, debit cards, and net banking, stating:

“Similar restrictions should also be prescribed for the purpose of the amount one would be allowed to stake while using electronic money facilities of the likes of credit cards, debit cards, net-banking, VCs, etc.”

Citizens Await Cryptocurrency Regulations

The commission noted betting activities have become potentially more accessible in recent years after the rise of cryptocurrencies “since the transactions are difficult to trace.”

Unlike many countries, the Indian government made sports betting, and other forms of gambling, an illegal activity since the 1800’s. However, people flocked to using cash for placing their bets and created a criminal, yet vibrant, betting industry over the years.

Nischal Shetty, the founder of peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, told Quartz:

“It is the first time that a body appointed by the government has given recognition to virtual currencies that they have value and can be used for a transaction. Therefore, it is a very positive sign, especially considering the report has come out after a lot of deliberation.”

Following the Indian central bank’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies, crypto-enthusiasts are awaiting developments and regulations for the burgeoning sector. At the time of writing, money cannot be withdrawn from cryptocurrency exchanges, although peer-to-peer exchanges like WazirX and Koinex Loop make cashing out possible.

The much-awaited July regulation on the legality of cryptocurrencies was shifted for September 11, 2018, hearing in the Indian Supreme court, as reported by CCN.

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Indian Crypto Exchange Unocoin Suspends Fiat Deposits, Withdrawals in Wake of RBI Ban

Unocoin, a major Indian crypto wallet provider and exchange, has suspended rupee (INR) deposits and withdrawals “as per orders” from the country’s central bank, according to Unocoin’s blog post July 23.

Unocoin notified its customers that fiat deposits and withdrawals are “temporarily disabled” until “an alternative method of funding is identified and deployed.”

Meanwhile, crypto asset deposits continue to be active on both Unocoin’s crypto-rupee trading platform and partner crypto-crypto exchange Unodax.

Unocoin users can also continue to use their existing rupee balance to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), and crypto-rupee and crypto-crypto pairs remain live on Unodax.

Unocoin is the latest domestic crypto industry player to feel the impact of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) controversial ban on banks’ dealings with crypto-related businesses and persons, after the deadline for its implementation expired earlier this month, July 5.

On July 4, another major domestic exchange, Zebpay, preempted the deadline by freezing fiat deposits and withdrawals. That same day, fellow exchange WazirX revealed it would transform into a P2P platform so as to avoid in-house crypto-fiat conversion.

The central bank’s crypto dealings ban — first announced in April 2018 — has prompted both public and industry-led petitions, with some appealing to the courts on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional.

Ongoing hearings on the ban at the Supreme Court have seen the judiciary refuse to grant interim relief to those that purport to be affected. Last week, the court deferred the final hearing on the ban, originally scheduled for July 20, until September 2018.

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Indian Crypto Regulation Ready by September: Official

News

The Indian government is expected to issue detailed cryptocurrency guidelines by September, a senior official from the country’s Ministry of Finance reportedly said. Consultations with all stakeholders including the central bank have already begun. This announcement is independent of the supreme court’s hearing of petitions relating to crypto regulation in India.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Regulation Expected by September

The Indian government has reportedly finished drafting the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. The New Indian Express wrote on Saturday that the government is “likely to issue guidelines on cryptocurrency by September.”

Indian Crypto Regulation Ready by September: Official
Subhash Garg.

This news follows the statement last month by the country’s Economic Affairs Secretary, Subhash Garg, confirming that the draft law would be ready by mid-July.

Citing that stakeholders include the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an unnamed senior official from the Ministry of Finance told the news outlet:

The draft is ready and consultation is on with all the stakeholders…before coming up with the final paper. We expect it to be ready by September.

“The ministry has constituted an interdisciplinary committee under the chairmanship of Special Secretary (Economic Affairs) to examine the regulatory framework regarding virtual currency,” the publication detailed. “SEBI and RBI have expressed some reservations regarding clauses in the initial draft.”

How Should Crypto be Regulated?

The unnamed senior official was quoted by the New Indian Express, “Cryptocurrency is a new phenomenon and naturally, governments across the globe are struggling with it.” He further detailed, “Most of the officials have serious reservations against it, which all of us agree with … we want to arrive at a common conclusion. There must be an appropriate mechanism to regulate the same.”

Indian Crypto Regulation Ready by September: Official

While the regulators have not confirmed how cryptocurrency will be regulated, Quartz reported that a senior government official familiar with the matter indicated it could be regulated as a commodity. “I don’t think anyone is really thinking of banning it (cryptocurrencies) altogether. The issue here is about regulating the trade and we need to know where the money is coming from. Allowing it as (a) commodity may let us better regulate trade and so that is being looked at,” the publication quoted him saying on July 11.

He explained that cryptocurrency “trade is not a criminal offence,” describing:

What has to be in place is a mechanism to be sure that the money used is not illegal money, and to track its source is the most important thing.

Supreme Court Hearing Also in September

Indian Crypto Regulation Ready by September: OfficialThe Supreme Court of India on July 20 set the final hearing date for all petitions relating to cryptocurrency regulations to September 11. The hearing is in response to the circular issued by RBI on April 6 banning banks and all financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto companies.

Many industry participants have petitioned against the ban. The IAMAI successfully convinced the supreme court to hear its petition on July 3. However, the court did not grant a stay and the ban went into effect on July 5. Banks subsequently closed the accounts of most crypto exchanges.

Judgement Day

The supreme court was supposed to hear all of the petitions relating to crypto on July 20. However, since some government bodies such as SEBI have not provided a response, the news outlet noted:

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra acceded to the request made by the petitioners and the matter has been listed for final disposal on September 11.

At the hearing on Friday, the IAMAI was represented by Advocate Gopal Subramanium while Advocate Shyam Divan appeared for RBI. Divan “informed the court that allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies will encourage illegal transactions,” the publication conveyed, adding that he clarified the central bank’s policy is of “extreme caution.”

How do you think India will regulate cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto Use

Regulation

India’s central bank told the country’s supreme court on Friday that “allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin would encourage illegal transactions.” Other crypto petitions being heard include one asking the government to “take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.”

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

RBI’s Argument

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, appeared before the supreme court Friday to defend its position regarding cryptocurrencies. RBI issued a circular on April 6 banning financial institutions under its control from providing services to crypto companies.

According to the Economic Times, the central bank told the court:

Allowing dealings in cryptocurrencies like bitcoins would encourage illegal transactions and it has already issued a circular prohibiting use of these virtual currencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseRBI explained that crypto is “a stateless digital currency” that operates independently of a central bank such as itself, thereby “rendering it immune from government interference,” the news outlet noted.

The Financial Express elaborated that the central bank believes “it is necessary to regulate the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to check illegal transactions which will impact the international flow of funds.” Senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for RBI, reiterated that the central bank has a particular stance and other departments may have other positions.

Petitions Being Heard

Petitions against the RBI crypto banking ban are not the only ones that the supreme court is hearing. The Economic Times described:

Some petitions challenged the use of virtual currencies and alleged that they posed grave dangers to the traditional economy and they also sought framing of guidelines to regulate them … They also sought a direction for the Centre to take emergency steps to restrain the sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies.

Indian Central Bank Makes a Case Before Supreme Court Against Allowing Crypto UseThe Hindu pointed to one particular petition, filed by father and son Siddharth Dalmia and Vijay Pal Dalmia. “Mr. Dalmia, in his plea, has sought a direction to the Centre to take steps to restrain sale and purchase of illegal cryptocurrencies like bitcoins, which were being traded openly for ‘illegal activities’ like funding terrorism and insurgency,” the publication wrote.

The supreme court already heard the duo’s initial petition in November last year and subsequently issued notices to various government departments including RBI. The central bank responded at the time that it had warned people against the usage and risks associated with crypto. However, the Dalmias were not happy with RBI’s reply and filed a new petition, pointing out the inadequate action by the central bank.

At the hearing on Friday, the supreme court gave the government until September 11 to respond to all petitions.

What do you think of RBI’s view and action? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today but RBI Ban Stays

Regulation

India’s Supreme Court heard the petitions against the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today. After hearing some arguments from both sides, the court decided to set another hearing date, allowing some of the regulators involved to respond to the petitions.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Supreme Court Hearing on July 20

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysThe long-awaited hearing at which the Supreme Court of India was scheduled to address all of the petitions against the crypto banking ban by the country’s central bank has finally taken place.

Today’s hearing follows the hearing on July 3 of the petition by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The court did not grant a stay against the ban at that time. Last week, the central bank responded to a representation by the association but did not change its stance on crypto.

The latest chapter of the courtroom saga did not see an overturn of the ban. The court also did not hear all arguments by both sides. Crypto Kanoon, a platform engaged in crypto regulatory analysis, legal awareness and news, detailed:

Limited arguments were advanced on behalf of IAMAI and RBI today.

Another Hearing Date Set

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysThere are at least five writ petitions filed against the RBI ban. However, according to Crypto Kanoon, “SEBI [the Securities and Exchange Board of India] and few others have not filed their response to the petition seeking regulation…All (remaining) parties to file their reply within 4 weeks.”

Sohail Merchant, CEO of crypto exchange Pocketbits, commented on the outcome of today’s hearing:

Final hearing [is] slated for 11th of September. Now that is the Judgement Day.

According to lawyers familiar with the case, the central bank has been challenged on two grounds. They concern article 19(1) (g) and article 14 of the Indian constitution. The former “allows citizens to enjoy the right to carry on any occupation, trade, or business,” Quartz explained, adding that the latter “prohibits discrimination and mandates equal protection under the law for all.”

P2P Services Live

In response to the RBI banking ban, a number of crypto exchanges in the country have set up peer-to-peer (P2P) services.

Indian Supreme Court Heard Crypto Petitions Today But RBI Ban StaysKoinex launched its P2P platform called Loop on July 17. “Loop is a peer-to-peer fiat to crypto trading platform where registered users can trade in cryptos with other registered users in INR,” the exchange described.

“To ensure user safety, a built-in escrow system is employed which releases the cryptocurrency only after the seller double confirms the exact payment of the trade.” According to its website, the service currently offers the buying and selling of BTC, ETH, and XRP without network or transaction fees.

Last week, Wazirx launched its P2P service, also without network or transaction fees. The exchange recently claimed to have 125,000 users on its main platform after operating for four months. Meanwhile, Coindelta is also preparing to launch a P2P service called Flux.

What do you think of the Supreme Court hearing today? Do you think RBI’s ban will eventually be lifted? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Founder of $150 Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Offers Compensation to Victims


The mastermind behind the infamous bitcoin ponzi GainBitcoin has offered to compensate thousands of victims who incurred losses during the scheme which raked in an initial 1,000 crores in cryptocurrency (approx. $150 million).

Now under arrest, Amit Bhardwaj has been found out as the kingpin behind India’s biggest cryptocurrency scam. The founder of now-defunct bitcoin mining pool GBminers and the investment scheme, commonly known as ‘GainBitcoin ‘, has offered to repay investors their initial investments in Indian rupees according to local publication Factor Daily.

GainBitcoin began as a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme in 2015 and amassed over 100,000 investors by its own admission, all of whom were promised monthly returns of 10% on their investment. When authorities caught on, Bhardwaj moved his base of operations to Dubai while continuing operations in India. He is alleged to have purchased multiple properties in Dubai including an office space at the Burj Khalifa tower – the world’s tallest building – according to an ongoing investigation into the sweeping scam. Authorities also discovered a number of companies in countries including Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, Estonia, Dubai and the United States registered by Bhardwaj.

Authorities have also discovered two bitcoin wallets controlled by Bhardwaj, previously containing a total of 5,372 bitcoins, about $40 million in current prices. At the time of discovery, the wallets contained a total balance of 3.31 bitcoins.

Authorities have also sought out major cryptocurrency exchange Zebpay after determining that ‘a large volume of transactions between the victims and Bhardwaj took place via its platform’, according to the report.

“Zebpay is the platform through which investment and sale of bitcoins were done in this case, which is why they were called for an enquiry,” a police official from the cyber crime cell at the Indian city of Pune told the publication.

Curiously, Bhardwaj has offered to repay investors their initial bitcoin investments with their corresponding value Indian rupees. His victims are understandably opposed to the move, demanding their dues in today’s market value of their original bitcoins. “Today, the Bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested,” an anonymous victim was quoted as stating. “It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and just return the principal amount which is wrong.”

Dozens of investors have reportedly filed police complaints in a number of cities including Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and other cities.

As reported previously, police have also raided and shuttered an Ethereum mining installation involved in the MLM scheme, seizing 100 Ethereum mining rigs as well as 500 GPUs and servers.

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Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to Victims

News

The alleged bitcoin Ponzi kingpin, Amit Bhardwaj, has reportedly offered to pay back the initial investments in Indian rupees to those who lost money through his scheme. However, victims want the current value of their cryptocurrencies, not the initial investments. Zebpay, one of India’s largest crypto exchanges, has also been called in to help with the investigation.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Bitcoin Ponzi Kingpin Offers to Compensate Victims

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsAmit Bhardwaj, the founder of GBminers and Gainbitcoin, has offered “to pay back investors their initial investments in Indian rupees,” the Factor Daily reported Wednesday.

He has been accused of duping thousands of investors with promises of unrealistic returns on bitcoin investments. According to the news outlet, “dozens have filed police complaints in Pune, Mumbai, Nanded (Maharashtra), Kolkata, Delhi and others cities.” One of the victims was quoted as saying:

We want the returns in (today’s) cryptocurrency value and not the value of the cryptocurrency when we invested. Today, the bitcoin price is much higher than what it was when we invested. It is like Bhardwaj will keep the profits and just return the principal amount which is wrong.

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsSince the middle of 2015, more than Rs 1,000 crore (~US$146 million) is estimated to have been invested in the Bhardwaj-led Gainbitcoin empire, the publication detailed.

Citing that Zebpay, one of India’s largest crypto exchanges, was called in to help with the investigation, Inspector Jayram Paygude of the Pune Cyber Crime Cell explained to the publication:

Zebpay is the platform through which investment and sale of bitcoins were done in this case, which is why they were called for an enquiry.

Challenge Recovering Crypto

Indian Bitcoin Ponzi Schemer Offers to Repay Initial Investments to VictimsDuring an assembly session held last week, Nationalist Congress Party member Hemant Takle raised questions about the delay in recovering bitcoins “and the inability of the police to nab the remaining absconders in the case,” according to the news outlet. He also raised the question regarding the compensation that Bhardwaj’s victims will receive, pointing out the difference in the price of BTC now and at the time of their initial investments.

In response to Takle’s statement, Deepak Kesarkar, a member of the 13th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, explained the difficulty in recovering some of the victims’ money which has been invested in bitcoin, stating:

Some of this amount is recovered by the police department through the e-wallets of these companies. The value of these digital currencies in the wallet will be recovered but it is difficult to recover the investment made in foreign companies.

Last week, the Indian state of Maharashtra announced that it is establishing a special unit to investigate all cases related to cryptocurrency, a move which follows the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India taking effect.

What do you think of Amit Bhardwaj offering to repay investors their initial investments? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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