Bitcoin Isn’t Legal Tender in India, Says Finance Minister

India’s foremost financial official has publicly refuted bitcoin as a currency and legal tender in the country.

Speaking at Tuesday’s session of the Indian Parliament, finance minister Arun Jaitley doubled down on his take on cryptocurrencies and specifically, bitcoin. According to local publication ZeeBiz, Jaitley refuted bitcoin’s acceptance as legal tender in the country while pointing to a similar stance taken by India’s central bank over the years.

A month ago in December, Jaitley confirmed the government’s ongoing plan to regulate India’s nascent but growing cryptocurrency industry, stating:

Recommendations are being worked at. The government’s position is clear, we don’t recognize this as legal currency as of now.

In today’s remarks, Jaitley revealed that 11 cryptocurrency exchanges had specifically been identified by the government without elaborating further. On December 13, 2017, India’s Income Tax (IT) department swooped in on at least nine bitcoin exchanges to look into alleged tax evasion before announcing its intention to impose capital gains taxes on adopters.

Despite numerous calls – including one mandate by the Supreme Court – to introduce a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, Jaitley stressed the government will not engage in “knee-jerk reactions” to force guidelines and/or regulations for exchanges.

Instead, the government is waiting on a report from the interdisciplinary committee tasked to research and propose a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, Jaitley added.

Jaitley’s public comments at the Indian Parliament today follows a public notice by the Ministry of Finance that cautioned citizens against investments in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, likening them to ponzi schemes.

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