India’s crypto bill is reportedly pending approval from Prime Minister Modi as concerns continue to loom

India’s crypto bill is reportedly pending approval from Prime Minister Modi as concerns continue to loom
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to take final call on crypt bill before it can be tabled in ParliamentCanva/IANS/BI India
  • India’s crypto bill is yet to be introduced into the lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha, for discussion.
  • According to a report by the Economic Times, the proposed laws are pending a final stamp of approval from India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, before the bill can be tabled.
  • A high-level meeting was initiated yesterday, on December 9, and is likely to continue discussing its concerns over the crypto bill today as well.
India’s crypto bill is expected to be tabled during the ongoing session of Parliament. However, since the session kicked off on November 29, a draft of the bill is yet to be seen. According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the new crypto bill is pending approval from the Cabinet, the highest decision-making body in India.

Two weeks in, the Economic Times reports that there is still some disagreement over certain aspects of the bill — including concerns voiced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — which are now in the hands of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A high-level meeting was reportedly held on Thursday, December 11, to discuss all the options on the table. And, deliberations are expected to continue today.

Only once Modi approves the bill, will it be introduced into the lower house of Parliament — the Lok Sabha. In order to become law, the bill will need to get approved by the both, lower and upper houses of Parliament, and then get the presidential asset.

“Many times, bills are tabled, and members debate and propose changes to the bills, which are then referred to parliamentary committees for review. Revised bills again must follow the same process before they become law,” explained Siddhath Mahajan, a partner at Athena Legal, in an email to Business Insider.

Here’s what we know about India’s new crypto bill so far

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, is unlikely to grant Bitcoin the status of legal tender, according to Sitharaman.

She also confirmed that the 2021 draft is not the same as the 2019 iteration, which banned all ‘virtual currency activity’, including mining, holding, and trading in cryptocurrencies.

In the final draft note of the proposed bill, as seen by NDTV, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will be at the helm of regulating cryptocurrencies in India. And, investors in India will have to store their crypto holding on Indian exchanges — not foreign exchanges or private wallets.

However, the current debate is over how to regulate not just the crypto exchanges, but also other players within the crypto industry. While no specifics were given by the Economic Times, it’s possible that there are concerns over the burgeoning popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse.

At the end of the day, without a final draft available for public purview, it’s impossible to know what the final version of the bill will look like. But, the Indian government has three broad options outside of a blanket ban — a partial ban on cryptocurrencies, allowing all categories of crypto use cases, or allowing a select few use cases within a regularised framework.

Cryptocurrencies continue to float in a sea of red

India's crypto bill may reportedly restrict exchange-to-exchange transfers and even launch its own crypto wallet