Two Ripple executives have agreed that India’s lawmakers are killing digital innovations. Navin Gupta and Sagar Sarbhai, interviewed by Editor-in-Chief of Forkast News Angie Lau, on how Indian regulators have been handling cryptocurrency to the extent that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) put a ban on digital currency before the summation was upturned by the Supreme Court of India.
Responding to the questions of where India is when it comes to digital currency and blockchain technology, Sagar Sarbhai, Ripple’s head of government and regulatory affairs for Asia Pacific (APAC), said the feeling of contempt against cryptocurrency started in 2013 when RBI and India’s Ministry of Finance were trying to decipher what cryptocurrency was.
During this period, there were lots of negative perceptions about cryptocurrency and digital assets, resulting in governments of the world warning against them.
Sagar said there were lots of condemnations against Bitcoin, and people were advised to take precautions up till 2017 when the warnings and hateful messages against digital assets took a different dimension.
In 2017, RBI and the Ministry of Finance, ministers and concerned bodies came out to warn people of cryptocurrencies.
However, in 2017, RBI circulated a circular to all their regulated institutions warning them against cryptocurrencies and stipulated that they stop offering services to digital assets service providers. This, according to the Ripple employee, resulted in the ban placed on trading digital currencies.
During this period, several crypto businesses could not go further, however, crypto enthusiasts in India decided to contest the ban, and early this year, the supreme court rendered their actions against Bitcoin null and void.
The decision by the supreme court created a vacuum in the policy. However, despite the decision of the supreme court, India still does not have a regulatory framework that gives people and the industry the needed clarity to hold and trade cryptocurrency.
“They are still in a grey zone, there is no framework in place that will give that comfort level to banks and institutional investors to enter the space and provide services,” Sagar said. He noted that there is a need for more clarity from the government and regulatory authority.
The Ripple official hopes that before this year runs out or by next year, there will be some forms of guidance from the regulators.
The Ripple employee observed that a few days back, there were claims in the Indian media that the government was moving to permanently abolish cryptocurrency trading, however, while the news may be true or may not be, he said, “the good news is that at least this topic (cryptocurrency) is now being broadly discussed in the policy surface in India for a long time.”
Sagar enjoined regulators not to take any action until they consult the public and stakeholders. Usually, Sagar said, policymakers do consult the public and stakeholders before finalizing. He said policymakers took forward-thinking steps of consulting the stakeholders during the data protection bill and the Bankruptcy Code, and the recent net neutrality discussion.
Also, the Managing Director, South Asia and MENA at Ripple mentioned that the Indian policymakers are not sure of who to make the crypto regulatory decision. He said Indian lawmakers are crippling innovations by not having an all-inclusive regulatory framework.
Navin said Indians have lots of crypto ideas, but due to the unavailable regulatory framework, they are unable to participate in innovating through cryptocurrency.