India’s Central Bank Sounds the Alarm (Again) on Bitcoin

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a new warning on cryptocurrencies, the second time this year the central bank has done so.

In a short statement published on Dec. 5, the central bank expressed caution to “users, holders and traders” of cryptocurrencies, naming bitcoin in particular. It echoes remarks issued in February, a release that came several years after it first warned Indian citizens about the tech in late 2013.

As with those prior releases, RBI said that it had not moved to license any company in India to work with cryptocurrencies, stating:

“…RBI has clarified that it has not given any licence/authorization to any entity/company to operate such schemes or deal with bitcoin or any digital currency.”

The new release, in a departure from the previous statements, includes a warning regarding initial coin offerings (ICOs) or token sales. It also highlights a “significant spurt” in the value of the overall cryptocurrency market.

“In the wake of [the] significant spurt in the valuation of many VCs and rapid growth in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), RBI reiterates the concerns conveyed in the earlier press releases,” the central bank said.

The move also comes amid a period of uncertainty around cryptocurrency regulation in India. As reported last month, the Indian Supreme Court asked the government there to respond to a petition seeking clarity on the matter. Officials from several government agencies have been working on a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, but to date, no official policies have been made public.

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