India’s crypto bill may take a page out of the new IT rules and ask exchanges to appoint a grievance officer

India’s crypto bill may take a page out of the new IT rules and ask exchanges to appoint a grievance officer
The Indian government may ask crypto exchanges to appoint grievance officersCanva
  • India’s upcoming crypto bill may ask exchanges to appoint a grievance officer, according to industry insider Aritra Sarkhel, the head of policy and governance issues on WazirX.
  • According to him, the Indian government is keen to have a local point-of-contact for crypto exchange just as the IT Rules, 2021 dictate for social networks.
  • A grievance officer is responsible for addressing an queries or concerns the government may have with respect to the company’s operations in the country or its users.
India’s crypto bill is still a work-in-progress and the final draft is yet to get the Cabinet’s green light. And, one of the aspects that is on the table is getting every crypto exchange to appoint a grievance officer — a page out of the recently introduced IT Rules, earlier this year.

There are also talks of point-of-contact, like a grievance officer at every exchange.

Aritra Sarkhel told Business Insider during a webinar sponsored by WazirX

This would mean potential jobs for at least 16 lawyers in the country given that there are at least 15 homegrown crypto exchanges in the country, like WazirX and CoinDCX, as well as foreign players, like Coinbase and CrossTower, keen to set up shop in India.

Aritra Sarkhel, the head of policy and governance issues at Indian crypto exchange WazirX — who has also been a part of conversations with the government over the past one year about the crypto bill — told Business Insider that the government’s is keen to appoint a point-of-contact for crypto exchanges.

Why do crypto exchanges need a grievance officer?

The logic of appointing a grievance officer is that regardless of whether a company is based in India or abroad, the point-of-contact is a person that is based out of India and can answer the government's questions and concerns, as and when they arise.

Moreover, at least in the IT Rules, the executive’s name and contact details will be prominently published on the social media platform’s website for users to address their complaints.

Being a grievance officer requires the person to acknowledge all complaints within 24 hours and resolve the issue within 15 days of when the complaint was filed. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has Spoorthi Priya as its grievance officer in India meanwhile WhatsApp has appointed Paresh B Lal — who quit earlier this month.

While the grievance officers for platforms like WhatsApp, Meta — formerly known as Facebook — Twitter and others don’t necessarily need to be lawyers, it does need to be someone with at least 10 years of experience in dealing with law enforcement or security agencies, including cybercrime and online investigations.

Understanding the differences between traditional exchanges and crypto exchanges

Other aspects of the blockchain world aren’t quite on the government’s radar yet. “Listen, nobody is discussing the metaverse at the highest quarters. We’re discussing cryptos and exchanges and NFTs, a little bit. I don’t think people are discussing the metaverse,” said Sarkhel.

The focus right now is on understanding the differences between how traditional exchanges and crypto exchanges function. How does the money go in and out, how do wallets — where users hold cryptocurrency — figure into the regulation, and what sets one cryptocurrency apart from the next.

And, when it comes to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), most of the conversation is around how they should be taxed as HODLer of digital art, as a buyer, or as a creator.

INTERVIEW: The Indian Government is asking experts these questions as it mulls over the crypto bill — and the metaverse isn’t one of them yet

Bitcoin, Tether, Shiba Inu and Dogecoin were most popular cryptocurrencies on WazirX in 2021